Born into the Fry family in Bristol, the son of Cecil Roderick Fry, who, as the last chairman of the J. S. Fry & Sons chocolate concern arranged for the sale of the company to rival Cadbury's, enraging the family. Jeremy was educated at Gordonstoun, and joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot. After the war, Jeremy took up motorsport driving a 500cc Parsenn but quit after his cousin Joe was killed at Blandford.
He became a product designer with Frenchay Products Ltd between 1954 and 1957. He founded Rotork Engineering Company in 1957 after identifying the potential of valve actuators. As Chairman he oversaw Rotork's rise to becoming the market leader in equipment for use in oil and gas pipelines, refineries, power stations and waste water plants, and a member of the FTSE 250 Index.
Noted as an inventor and engineer, his designs included a car, the Sea Truck (a flat boat ferry capable of carrying one car at high speed), and a four-wheel-drive wheelchair. Additionally he was responsible for starting James Dyson out on his own inventing career by mentoring him in 1970 at Rotork.
His friend Tony Richardson, film and theatre director, described Fry (and their many travels together) in his autobiography Long Distance Runner (London, 1993; pp187–90).
He was noted for his keen interest in the Arts and will be remembered as the saviour of the Theatre Royal, Bath. He bought the theatre in 1979 and as its Chairman oversaw its extensive renovation. In addition to being Chairman of the Northern Ballet Theatre he was the chairman of the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol.
Fry led an extensive and hedonistic personal life before his first marriage. A good friend of society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, he was allegedly asked to be best man at Armstrong-Jones's marriage to Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II. However, Fry was convicted of "importuning for immoral purposes" after allegedly approaching a man for sex, and was replaced as best man to Armstrong-Jones.
Fry married Camilla Grinling in 1955 (died 2000). They lived at Widcombe Manor, and had two sons and two daughters; the marriage was dissolved in 1967. In 2004 their daughter Polly claimed that her biological father had in fact been Armstrong-Jones; Anne de Courcy reports the claim by Polly, born in the third week of Lord Snowdon's marriage to Princess Margaret, that she was in fact Snowdon's daughter. Polly Fry asserted that a DNA test in 2004 proved Snowdon's paternity. Jeremy Fry rejected her claim, and Snowdon denied having taken a DNA test. However, four years later, after Fry had died, Snowdon admitted that this account was true.
- Obit, Sunday Independent
- "Jeremy Fry". The 500cc Owners Association. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008.
- "Parsenn". The 500cc Owners Association. Archived from the original on 5 January 2009.
- Alderson, Andrew (31 May 2008). "Lord Snowdon, his women, and his love child". The Daily Telegraph.
- Conti, Samantha (21 November 2008). "The Tony Earl". Women's Wear Daily. p. 10.
- Andy Bloxham, Andy (31 May 2008). "Lord Snowdon fathered a secret love child just months before marrying Princess Margaret". Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
- "Jeremy Fry: Obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 20 July 2005.
- "Entrepreneur and inventor Jeremy Fry dies". University of Bath newsletter. 21 July 2005.
- "Jeremy Fry: Obituary". The Times. London. 26 July 2005.
Socialite and host who also had the entrepreneur's touch
- "Jeremy Fry: Obituary". The Independent. 27 July 2005. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007.
Inventor-engineer whose ingenuity was matched by astonishing energy
- "Jeremy Fry: Obituary". The Independent. 27 July 2005. Archived from the original on 11 July 2010.