Frank Fritz, dubbed as the “Bearded Charmer,” is an American antique collector and TV personality, who became famous when he starred in History Channel’s hit reality series, “American Pickers.”
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Early life and family
Frank Fritz was born on 11 October 1965, in Davenport, Iowa USA, to parents Bill and Susan Kay. His parents separated, and his mother, who worked in a construction company, remarried in 1974 to tire salesman Richard “Dick” Zirbes, and they lived in Bettendorf, Iowa.
He has a sister now in Ohio. His mother passed away on 17 December 2013 at the age of 67.
His biological father lives in Dallas, and they became closer after the TV show started.
He attended Sudlow Intermediate School in Davenport, and matriculated from Bettendorf High School in 1983.
Frank had a regular job as a fire and safety inspector for 25 years, covering areas from Des Moines to Cedar Falls in Iowa.
When he was a child, he liked picking-up beer cans, rocks, and other trinkets for his collection, and never outgrew this hobby. He only realized that he could turn his hobby of picking up anything old and unusual to something profitable, when he was able to sell a $15 firehouse-related item for $475. In 2002, he quit his job and ventured into the buy and sell business, setting-up his antique collection shop, Frank Fritz Finds, in Savannah, Illinois.
He calls himself a modern day recycler.
He travelled across the country looking for vintage toys, cars, motorcycles, and other stuff not just to sell them in his shop, but also for his own personal collection – Frank has a man cave where he keeps his favorite picks.
He was cast in the reality TV series, “American Pickers” with Mike Wolfe, who is also the creator and one of the executive producers. Frank and Mike have known each other since eighth grade and share similar interests in picking-up items.
Mike had this concept for a show, and he filmed himself and Frank looking for antiques, buying and selling them, then posted them online; he pitched the show for five years before it was picked up by History Channel.
In “American Pickers,” the two would travel across the US to explore or search other people’s homes, garages, sheds, barnss, and any other place where they might find items that they could buy for their clients, for their collection, and for reselling.
Mike has an office, Antique Archeology in Le Claire, Iowa, being run by Danielle Colby Cushman, who is also in the show.
The show’s first episode was aired on 18 January 2010 on History Channel, viewed by 3.1 million viewers, which made it the second highest-rated debut for the network after “Ice Road Truckers” in 2007 with 3.4 million viewers for its premiere episode. Its “Laurel & Hardy” episode in September of that year garnered 5.3 million viewers.
After “American Pickers” became a hit, Frank was invited on shows including “Rachael Ray” (2010), “American Restoration” (2011), “Late Show with David Lettermen” (2011), and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (2013). He also had a short guest-starring role in the animated sitcom, “American Dad,” in 2016.
Frank likes to keep his personal life private, but posts on his Facebook page showed that he is in a relationship with Diann whom he called his better half and favorite picking partner. Diann has a daughter, Paige, and granddaughter, Eulalia. He posted a family photo back in December 2016.
Interesting facts and rumors
- There was some speculation on Frank’s noticeable weight loss in 2013 and he addressed the issue via his Facebook post, saying that he lost weight due to Crohn’s Disease and had difficulty dealing with it sometimes, but he was fine. The production staff knows about it, and has been very supportive and accommodating in providing what he needs.
- On 30 July 2017, he was arrested and charged with OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) for driving the wrong way and swerving on Interstate 80; he pleaded guilty and admitted to having a beer and taking prescription medication, Xanax. He was given a deferred judgement, and was court-mandated to attend a substance evaluation program and follow any treatment recommended.
- A year after the show premiered, there were rumors that Frank and Mike were lovers as they seemed to spend 24/7 together driving around the country even if Mike talked about having a girlfriend, or that Frank is gay because he seemed very private. The rumors were put to rest when Frank started posting about Dianne on his Facebook page in 2014.
- Frank was sued for $7,500 by collector and auctioneer, Jerry Bruce in 2014, for reneging on a deal they made. Jerry contacted Frank and said he wanted to buy the polarimeter he saw on the show, and alleged that Frank offered to sell the item to him for $300 plus shipping and he agreed, but he said that Frank never cashed the check and he never got the item. Fritz was declared in default by the judge for not appearing or responding to the pleadings. Jerry was awarded $1,000 and $80 for court costs.
- When he was a teenager, Frank worked at Coast to Coast Hardware and Quad-City Automatic Sprinkler, and saved up to buy a $4,100 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
- Frank has been riding the motorcycle for over four decades, and he became president of ABATE (A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education) of Iowa for nine years. He was one of the 2019 inductees into the Sturgis Museum Hall of Fame.
He is 5ft 4ins (1.67m) tall and weighs 156lbs (71kgs). Although he lost a lot of weight, he is still a bit on the heavy side. He is sporting full sleeve tattoos on both his arms.
Frank’s net worth according to sources is estimated at over $4 million as of June 2020.