Science fiction’s most beloved pro artist, the versatile Kelly Freas, passed in his sleep before dawn on January 2, 2005. The cause of death was not announced, but his health had been failing for some time. He will be buried in Chatsworth, CA. There will be a public memorial service in a week or two. (It may be hosted at the LASFS and, if so, the place is already decorated with a complete collection of his pro-space-exploration posters that also hang in the Smithsonian.)
Frank Kelly Freas was born in Hornell, NY in 1922. His first professional publication was the cover for Weird Tales, November 1950. His varied career included painting WWII bomber nose art, doing MAD Magazine covers from 1955-1962, designing the Skylab 1 crew patch, being the cover artist for a Queen album, and doing infinite covers and illustrations for sf prozines. He was President of ASFA, 1982-1983.
He also did caricatures of everyone from Alfred E. Newman to John John W. Campbell, and countless convention fans. A very fannish pro, Freas was a longtime Dorsai Irregular and a member of First Fandom. Having been one of the GoH’s at the 1982 Worldcon (Chicon IV), the Chicago in 2000 bid made him the subject of one its collectible trading cards. He was also a Torcon 3 guest of honor (2003) but was unable to attend due to injuries sustained in a fall a few weeks before the con.
His 10 Best Professional Artist Hugos set a record for most Hugos won for professional work that stood til 1991, when Whelan won his 11th. Freas won his last 5 Hugos consecutively, 1972-1976. He was nominated a total of 24 times. Also, in 2001 he also won a Retro Hugo for his work in 1950.
Freas was one of the most gentlemanly individuals in the sf community. He will be profoundly missed.