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In Memoriam: Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta

August 1, 2009

“Ellie” Frazetta, the wife of celebrated artist Frank Frazetta, had passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. Ellie Frazetta, the wife, muse, and model for Frank Frazetta will be remembered fondly by all those who have met her.

Eleanor Frazetta, born Eleanor Kelly, might have been the prototype for the partner in life and business, because that’s what she was for Frank Frazetta in the eyes of many who knew them.

Eleanor Kelly was born in Massachusetts and moved to New York where she married Frank in November, 1956. She acted as his business partner as well as his lifelong companion. Known for her feisty personality as well as her intuitive business acumen, she was instrumental in successfully establishing record prices for Frank’swork throughout her life.

Besides being a wife and mother, Ellie Frazetta took an intense interest in Frank’s career. Apparently, Ellie was the one who pushed her husband to retain his paintings, rather than letting book companies hold on to the originals. That was a revolutionary practice in the paperback industry during the 1960s. Over the years, she also was assiduous in tracking down paintings that were still in the possession of publishers and buying them back. Her efforts paid big dividends in later years and especially benefitted the still-nascent Frank Frazetta Museum.

Once Frank Frazetta’s career really began to take off, it was Ellie who started and managed the Frazetta mail-order business. This was when Mrs. Frazetta really began to gain her reputation in the art world as a tough but honest businesswoman, one who was extremely protective of Frank and his work. An anecdote from a member of the Official Robert E. Howard Forum is illuminating. Apparently, his nine year-old self (in 1976) had sent his handwritten request for a catalog to the Frazetta mail-order business. A few days later he received a catalog, filled with glossy images of Frank’s beautiful paintings. At the top of the order-form page, Ellie had written, “These catalogs aren’t free. You owe me $2.50. Just send it with your first order. Regards, Ellie.” I think that shows her tough-minded good-heartedness as well as anything.

Over the next few decades, the Frazetta merchandising business thrived and Frank’s artwork continued to rise in value, with Ellie keeping a close eye on both. She was the one who, by all accounts, spearheaded the Frazetta Museum project. The third and final incarnation of that dream was opened to the public in 2003 in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. That unveiling was the centerpiece of the excellent Frazetta documentary, Painting With Fire. Ellie is all over that documentary and rightfully so.

In addition to her husband, “Ellie” is survived by her four children, Frank Jr., Billy, Holly and Heidi, and her grandchildren

My condolences to Frank Frazetta and his family. I was priveleged to meet both Ellie and Frank in New York one time and it was one the biggest highlights of my life. Being of an empressionable age at the time being invited to their room by Ellie to chat with her and Frank and their freind and great artist Roy Krenkel. They answered questions and showed me original artwork for quite sometime before I had to finally leave to meet my abandoned fiancee. It was a great pleasure and one that will stay with me until my time is up. Bye Ellie you were top notch. ellie Frazetta 1935 - 2009

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