Born in Dexter, Mo., she moved to Los Angeles after graduating the U. of Tulsa. She started out teaching and acting before joining Danny Thomas Productions as a development executive. She then formed her own production company, Avanti Enterprises, which produced the TV series “Born Famous” about the children of the rich and famous. The series led to the 1989 Shelly Long comedy “Troop Beverly Hills,” based on Fries’ own experiences leading her daughter’s scout troop, remembered for its campy dance numbers, celebrity cameos and extravagant costumes.
A sequel to “Troop Beverly Hills” was announced in 2020.
Fries was active in many charities and worked to give young people opportunities in theater education.
She served on the board of directors for Los Angeles’s Center Theater Group for over two decades. She was also a founding co-chair of American Film Institute Associates and The International Film Society; served on the board of the Children’s Burn Foundation; and was a member of The Producers Guild of America and Women In Film.
Fries was honored by NOW, the National Organization of Women, for her contributions to the community and the arts. As Vice Chairman of the Board and a longtime member of People Assisting the Homeless, (P.A.T.H.), she chaired a 1994 event honoring Archbishop Desmond Tutu and, along with her husband, Chuck.
Following the death of her daughter, Camela Ostern Markman –– who had been a supporter of The Westside Children’s Center in West Los Angeles, she organized and chaired the WCC’s Big Hearts Club to benefit children in the foster care system.
Her husband, Chuck Fries, died in April. She is survived by her daughter, Diane Sherry Case; stepchildren Charles M. Fries, Suzanne Fries-Hostka, Chris Fries, Dyanne Fries, Mike Fries, Alice Fries, and Jon Fries; 22 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.