The Cincinnati, Ohio-born Fries moved to Los Angeles in 1952 and began working for the production and syndication company Ziv Television Programs. He later worked at Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures, and Metromedia. In 1974, he formed Charles Fries Productions, which later became Fries Entertainment, where he produced and/or supervised more than 275 hours of television movies and mini-series.
Fries has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame since 1978.
Among the projects he produced are The Amazing Spider-Man television series, which aired in the USA between 1977–79, the 1980 television miniseries The Martian Chronicles, based on the book by Ray Bradbury, the 1981 television docudrama Bitter Harvest, and the 1989 made-for-TV movies Small Sacrifices and The Neon Empire.
His son Mike Fries is Vice Chairman of Liberty Global, one of the world's largest media companies