• Show created by Brent Montgomery and Colby Gaines of Leftfield Pictures
• Format of show focuses on staff's day-to-day operations and interactions with customers
• Cast consists of main shop staff, minor shop staff, and recurring experts
• Rebecca Romney, a graduate of Classical Studies and Linguistics, served as an expert in books, manuscripts, and documents
• Chumlee had several brushes with the law and the show faced some criticism and backlash
One of the most popular shows to air on History Channel is the reality series “Pawn Stars,” which follows the daily activities of the family-run Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. The show debuted in July 2009, instantly becoming a hit, and has been running for 19 seasons. Its concept revolves around the staff’s interactions with customers who bring in various items and artifacts to sell or pawn, haggling with the owners regarding the price, and often discussing its historical background and marketability. The popular series has had a big cast, including Rebecca Romney – nee Engeat – who mysteriously disappeared from the show, so naturally fans are interested in the story behind her leaving the show and the pawnshop.
How was show created?
The conceptual idea of launching a series that followed the exciting adventures in a pawn shop was conceived and developed by the business partners/producers Brent Montgomery and Colby Gaines of Leftfield Pictures.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the greatest Pawn Star of them all? Two new BACK-TO-BACK episodes of #PawnStars tomorrow starting at 9/8c, only on The HISTORY Channel!
While visiting Las Vegas and experiencing its incredible sensations and locations, the duo was taken aback by its array of eclectic pawn shops, and began searching for a family-operated shop to serve as a focal point of a potential series. Less than two miles from the Las Vegas Strip, Bren and Colby stumbled upon Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, which embodied everything they were searching for. The shop was initially featured in a 2001 documentary on PBS, after which the owner of the pawnshop, Rick Harrison, had been trying to pitch a show that focused on his shop to various production houses with no success.
Talking to a media outlet, Rick spoke about the show and its inception, saying: ‘I got a hold of this Bluff Field Pictures, and they had a different idea, and then History Channel liked the show. It was my idea.
For years I tried to get this going, and everyone said, ‘Who wants to see a show about a pawn shop.’ After Nancy Duboc, the president of History, picked up the show, it was initially entitled “Pawning History” but was later renamed “Pawn Stars” as it fitted better with the locale and had a nicer ring.
What is show’s format?
The show’s format focuses on the staff’s day-to-day operations, often with on-camera experts appraising items brought by customers at the Gold and Silver.
Even though the majority of items that customers bring to the pawnshop are jewelry, the show chose to fixate more on interesting antiquities with rich historical or cultural origins. Five of six items were shown and appraised during each episode, while some staff members, usually Rick and his son Corey, provided historical context and interesting information. If one of them isn’t familiar with the item or its value, they typically call one of their numerous experts to shed some light on the object. Occasionally, they would buy items solely focused on their hunch or knowledge, taking risks.
The show is also centered around the relationships, sometimes the conflicts between the leading staff members, which are always presented in a goofy manner, as they argue over their judgment while buying items.
In addition, a new segment was introduced in the eighth season, a trivia questions regarding the pawned or show items, which aired during the commercial breaks.
With the show’s enormous success, the shop’s location became a Las Vegas tourist site, attracting thousands of visitors and fans daily. To facilitate the increase in business, the shop expanded and began adding new employees.
Who is the show’s cast?
The show’s cast consists of main shop staff, minor shop staff, and recurring experts. The main shop staff is Richard “Rick “Harrison, Rick’s son Corey Harrison, and Austin ‘Chumlee’ Russell, Corey’s friend. Initially, the main cast also included Richard “Old Man” Harrison, Rick’s father, who co-owned the shop with Rick.
He last appeared in 2017, and they later announced that he retired from the show due to old age. In June 2018, the show’s fans were saddened by the news that Old Man Harrison had passed away.
The minor shop’s staff usually changes with each season, and has seen many members such as Olivia Black, Danielle Rainey, Antwaun Austin, Fat Back, Johnny, Scott, Andy, and Lily.
The show also features over 30 experts in various fields, ranging from jewelry to guns to toys among others, who are called to appraise the item or antiquity, and provide more information. One of those recurring experts was Rebecca Romney.
Who is Rebecca Romney?
Definitely one of the most famous experts on the show, Rebecca gained popularity serving as an expert in books, manuscripts and documents dating from the 15th to the 21st century. Even though she holds a celebrity status, Rebecca is very secretive about her personal life.
Talking of her education, she is a graduate of Classical Studies and Linguistics.
In 2007 she joined Bauman Rare Books in Las Vegas, with also a base in New York, where she was initially a salesperson, and worked her way up. In order to become a capable specialist experienced in antique and contemporary literature, Rebecca enrolled at the Rare Book School to further her knowledge, subsequently rose through the ranks, and was eventually a gallery manager, later becoming the company’s senior director.
Even those fans who didn’t regularly watch “Pawn Stars” must have come across Rebecca. She exuded a friendly aura and displayed detailed knowledge when Rick, Chumlee or Corey needed an appraisal regarding a book or a manuscript. Besides the pricing, she shared her insights and necessary details about the items, providing interesting information and fun-facts to the viewers.
Making her debut in 2011 in the show’s fourth season, Rebecca was a regular until 2014. Although her educational qualifications are indisputable, as happens with reality series, people began questioning whether her appearances on the show were staged.
However, Rebecca has been very open concerning her role in the show, and addressed the issue of legitimacy on Reddit, disclosing that the situations were genuine every time she was invited into the show. However, Rebecca added that, understandably, she would usually be informed about the item beforehand, so that she could provide a truthful assessment of the item and historical accounts.
Was she fired from the show?
Following the ninth season’s episode entitled “Field Trip,” Rebecca stopped appearing in the show, raising numerous questions from fans who began wondering whether she was fired, had some issues with the show, or with the Harrisons. Puzzlingly, the production’s staff and Rebecca never disclosed any information regarding the discontinuation of her appearances in the show.
Even though there was no official explanation, it later surfaced that she allegedly left “Pawn Stars” after landing a position in the Bauman Rare Books shop in Philadelphia.
She also disclosed that she married J.P. Romney, the author of “The Monster on the Road is Me,” and the two relocated to Philadelphia, her husband’s home town, which meant that she couldn’t appear in the show due to distance. Many believe that her LinkedIn profile corroborates this theory as the event’s dates coincide. Whether she had any issues with the cast will remain unanswered, but none were apparent during her on-camera appearances. Rebecca and J.P have welcomed two children.
Where is she now?
In 2016, she left Bauman Rare Books and joined Honey & Wax Booksellers, another rare book business based in Brooklyn, New York City. She and her husband launched and hosted the “Biblioclast Podcast” during the same year, in which they commented on and discussed various literary pieces. Unfortunately, the audio show was short-lived, and this project ceased in 2017.
Sharing the love of books, in 2017, Rebecca collaborated with her husband to publish the book entitled “Printer’s Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History.” The Following year, she posted an article online, detailing her experience working at the Honey & Wax Booksellers.
However, in 2019 Rebecca left Honey & Wax Booksellers to focus on a new project – her own rare book business, founding Type Punch Matrix, based in Washington DC.
In 2019 she appeared in the documentary “The Booksellers,” praised by the Variety as “the movies’ cockeyed optimist of bibliophilia.”.
Naturally, upon seeing or hearing her last name, many wonder whether she is related to US Senator Mitt Romney. The answer is simple ‘yes’! Rebecca is associated with the senator through her marriage to J.P., who is a member of the political Romney family.
Who is in Vegas this week? I'm doing a book signing at the Pawn Stars shop tomorrow (Thursday, April 20) at 12pm – 2pm. Come say hello and buy a book (which I will happily sign if you like).
Interesting information about Rebecca
Even though it does not come as a shock, considering that Rebecca majored in Linguistics, she is multilingual, and speaks French and Japanese while also having knowledge of Latin, Greek and Old English. In an episode of the “Pawn Stars,” she revealed that learning other languages or even being familiar with them eases her reading and understanding of antique books without the limitations posed by translations.
As a true bookworm and bibliophile, her favorite genres in literature are romance, science fiction, and fantasy genres, while she also enjoys reading classical pieces. In the last two years, she began participating in live public events for schools and universities, and she is often featured in podcasts and YouTube series. Furthermore, check out her social media if you want to keep up with Rebecca and her recent projects. She is very active on her social platforms; her Instagram boasts over 130,000 followers, while her Twitter has over 50,000 followers. Rebecca also uses Facebook, on which she has nearly 200,000 followers.
Once a pawn a time in Hollywood…Rick and Chum checked out a treasure trove of 🌟 quality memorabilia TONIGHT at 9/8c! #PawnStars
Controversy on the show
Although “Pawn Stars” is not widely known for conflicts and drama, they have encountered some unpleasant situations, criticism and backlash. For example, in 2014, they had a run-in with the law over some coin collection brought in by Jennifer Bechman. Her uncle, David Walters, filed a criminal complaint to Clark County Justice Court and accused Jennifer of stealing his coin collection and selling it to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.
Walter claimed that the pawnshop owners ripped Jennifer off, who received over $12,000 for the coins, and argued that their worth was $50,000. After realizing that his collection was missing, he reported his niece to the authorities and contacted the pawnshop. However, the staff from the pawnshop claimed that the coins ‘were already gone’. The shop’s spokesperson talked to Fox News and revealed: ‘To the best of my knowledge, as the coins are unidentifiable, they may have been melted down. They may have been sold. They may be in buckets with like coins waiting to be evaluated. These coins were worth far less than the gentleman thought they were worth.’
She also added that none of the Gold and Silver shop staff engaged in illicit or illegal activities.
Chumlee is regarded as one of the funniest cast members and is often ridiculed for his alleged lack of intelligence and incompetence. Whether you love or hate him, he definitely brings something to the table and completes the show with his unique and quirky personality. However, Chumlee has his share of wrongdoings. In 2012 he was caught on camera beating up a guy in Hollywood, and fleeing the scene. The unidentified man sustained severe injuries and was left bleeding on the side of the road while Chumlee took off and later claimed that it was self-defense. He revealed that the man “threatened to pull a gun” on him and said: ‘Instinct just took over. [The man] didn’t even know I was on TV or anything, just wanted to ride in our car and start problems.”
In 2016, Chumlee had another brush with the law – according to The Chicago Tribune, he was arrested on suspicion of 20 felonies. In addition, he was reported to the police for sexual assault, who raided his house and found an array of narcotics. These accusations of sexual assault were later cleared; however, the issues over the found drugs remained unresolved.
According to the media outlets, they found weed, meth, Xanax, eight unregistered guns, and traces of cocaine. To avoid prison time, Chumlee made a deal, which according to USA Today, involved pleading “guilty to a felony weapons charge — unlawful possession of a firearm — and to a gross misdemeanor of attempted drug possession.”
Is “Pawn Stars” cancelled?
Season 19 aired in September 2021, consisting of 14 episodes. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the production for Season 20 began in September 2021, while the official History channel site discloses that new episodes will debut on 23 April 2022. So even though the show has been running for as long as anyone can remember, it is still a well-oiled machine.
Similar to many other entertainment industry projects, the production, staff and cast of “Pawn Stars” encountered various obstacles during the global pandemic, hindering the production and filming. As the restrictions slowly began to be lifted, the show continued at full speed.
Talking to a media outlet, Chumlee gave his insight on the show and the new season, saying: ‘Honestly, when I look back 13 years ago, when this all started, I thought we’d be done by now, I thought, if anything, I would be off doing some dumb show of my own. But we’re still making Pawn Stars, and I’m loving it. Every year is better than the year before.”