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What Happened to Frank on "American Pickers"? He's Suffered Health Issues in Recent Years

The reality star also seemingly fell out with former co-host, Mike Wolfe.

For almost a decade, Frank Fritz was traveling across the country looking for interesting and valuable antiques on the popular History Channel show American Pickers. Together with Mike Wolfe, Fritz made a living telling the history of America one piece at a time, to paraphrase the show's intro. But, in March 2020, Fritz left the reality series, leaving Wolfe hosting on his own. Read on to learn what prompted Fritz to leave the show, get the details of the rumored feud between the two stars, and see what the odds are that Fritz might ever return to the American Pickers.

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Why did Frank Fritz leave American Pickers?

American Pickers has been a History staple for close to 15 years, as the series premiered in January 2010 to massive ratings. It was then that TV audiences first met Fritz as he and Wolfe crossed the country looking for the most interesting objects they could buy (or "pick," to use the show's terminology).

Fritz appeared on American Pickers for 20 seasons until March 2020, when he abruptly disappeared. In a 2021 interview with The Sun, he explained that he hadn't quit the show but instead had taken time off to recover from back surgery which was then exacerbated by complications from his Crohn's disease and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's up to the network whether I come back on the show," Fritz said. "It ain't gonna affect me one bit. I didn't leave the show, I finished shooting and then I had a little back surgery and the pandemic came."

Fritz also said that his back surgery was necessary as a result of injuries he sustained lifting heavy objects as part of his work on American Pickers.

"If you watch the show you can see who the guy is that's lifting all the time, it's always me," he said. "It had been hurting for a long, long time. I'm talking months and months and months."

However, in July 2021, Entertainment Weekly confirmed that the History Channel would not be bringing Fritz back, with a source saying he didn't factor into the show's "big picture."

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What happened between Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe?

Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe in 2015
D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

In the same interview with The Sun, Fritz revealed that had a falling out with his longtime co-host, Wolfe.

"I haven't talked to Mike in two years. He knew my back was messed up, but he didn't call me up and ask how I was doing. That's just how it is," Fritz said.

"The show is tilted towards him 1,000 percent. I can't even bend that far down to show you how much," he continued, suggesting that the bad blood between them also had to do with sharing the American Pickers spotlight. "That's fine. It's like you've got Aerosmith and there's Steven Tyler and he's the front man. I found my spot, I'm second and he's number one on the show. That's no problem with me, maybe he does have a problem."

Initially, Wolfe didn't address Fritz's absence from the show, but once History confirmed that he would not return, Wolfe shared a statement with EW.

"I have known Frank for as long as I can remember, he's been like a brother to me," he said. "The journey that Frank, [Danielle Colby], and I started back in 2009, like all of life, has come with its highs and lows, blessings and challenges, but it has also been the most rewarding. I will miss Frank, just like all of you, and I pray for the very best and all good things for him on the next part of his journey."

Fritz called out Wolfe's statement as being insincere in a subsequent interview with The Sun, however.

"Mike's statement was [expletive]," he said. "Somebody wrote it out for him. We never were friends in grade school. I don't believe in 10 years he's said five nice things to me, you know? Unless he was cutting somebody else down and we were both laughing."

However, the pair have seemingly since repaired their relationship. A friend of Fritz's told The Quad-City Times in May 2023 that they reunited, at Fritz's request, after three years of having not seen each other. Their reunion also reportedly happened in the aftermath of another health crisis for Fritz. (More on that later.)

"This was not a feud between Mike and Frank at all," the source told the paper. "They were not feuding. They needed separation to appreciate each other."

They added, "There were tears flowing on both sides."

What did Danielle Colby have to say about their feud?

Colby is a longtime friend of Wolfe's and a regular presence on American Pickers, as she works in the antique shop Antique Archaeology. She initially stayed quiet when Fritz left the show but eventually made her feelings known in an August 2021 Instagram post.

"I'm truly saddened for the loss of Frank on the show. I'm incredibly sad for his struggles," she began, perhaps alluding to his issues with drinking. (Fritz received treatment for alcoholism at a rehab center around the same time he was recovering from back surgery, he revealed to The Sun.)

"I have personally watched everything over the last decade," Colby's Instagram post continues. "I have many thoughts but won't speak them as they are only my thoughts, not gospel. I wish things could have been different but we must be accountable for our actions when we cause instability or pain and suffering to others. Frank caused so much pain for himself that it has been hard to watch. I truly hope Frank receives all the help he needs to become well after years of being unwell. It is not my place to speak ill of someone who needs help so I will keep my comments uplifting. I'm sending love to everyone. The only reason I'm speaking to this right now is because everybody is speculating on my words and my words are being taken out of context in tabloid rags because they can't interview me because I will not interview with a tabloid rag. So if you wanna know how I feel. Here's exactly how I feel. I hope everybody gets well. I hope everybody continues to love each other even through the hard [expletive]."

What's going on with Frank Fritz's health?

Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe in 2010
Brian Killian/WireImage

According to The Des Moines RegisterFritz had a stroke and was found unresponsive on the floor of his home on July 14, 2022. He was placed under temporary guardianship as he recovered, as the stroke had impacted his mental and physical abilities to the point he could no longer take care of himself, financially or otherwise.

News of the reality star's stroke became public when Wolfe posted to Instagram days later, "Frank I pray more than anything that you make it through this okay. I love you buddy."

Fritz continues to recover from the stroke and is receiving in-patient care. The Des Moines Register reported in November 2023 that he'd gone out to a restaurant with friends for the first time since the stroke. The American Pickers star was using a wheelchair.

What is Frank Fritz doing now?

The Des Moines Register reported, based on court documents related to his guardianship, that Fritz has not been employed since leaving American Pickers but "has a small monthly investment income and maintains multiple valuable collections." The former reality star has an Instagram page, but it hasn't been updated since before he left the show.

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Is there any chance Frank Fritz will return to American Pickers?


American Pickers star Mike Wolfe talks about the Frank Fritz controversy on the show. #americanpickers #frankfritz #mikewolfe #realitytv #pickers #washingtondc #drama #history #historychannel @HISTORY

♬ original sound – CAPITAL PAPARAZZI

American Pickers has continued to air since Fritz's departure, with the latest season starting in December 2023. However, The Sun reports that the ratings have suffered. Because of his health issues, however, there's little indication that the former co-host will be able to get back to searching for hidden treasures soon. In December 2022, Wolfe told the TikTok account @CapitalPaparazzi that there was "absolutely hope" that Fritz could return to the show, but that he physically was in no condition to at that time. In that same street interview, Wolfe denied that they had ever been in a feud.

"I would hope he's gonna be back on the show, but right now he needs to get healthier," Wolfe said.

James Grebey
James has been an entertainment journalist for more than a decade, writing and editing for outlets like Vulture, Inverse, Polygon, TIME, The Daily Beast, SPIN Magazine, Fatherly, and more. Read more
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