A woman almost fainted when she learned the value of a highly controversial letter she brought to “Antiques Roadshow.”
Vie Carlson brought an angry letter signed by Frank Sinatra, which he wrote to newspaper columnist Mike Royko of the Chicago Daily News in 1976.
The “My Way” singer was irked off by the journalist’s unflattering op-ed, which questioned the amount of police protection the singer used when he was in Chicago for a performance.
In the piece, Royko claimed that the streets were more dangerous because Sinatra had used some of the city’s police as his personal security.
One part of the angry letter read, “Quite frankly, I don’t understand why people don’t spit in your eye three or four times a day.”
Royko also mocked Sinatra’s hair in the column, so the singer challenged the journo to a wager at the end of the letter.
“I will allow you to pull my ‘hairpiece,’” he wrote. “If it moves, I will give you another $100,000; if it does not, I punch you in the mouth. How about it?”
Sinatra and the press had a contentious relationship. Early in his career, he was arrested for attacking a journalist who had written many unflattering articles about him.
“I saw red. I hit him,” he told the Baltimore Sun in 1947. “I’m sorry that it happened, but I was raised in a tough neighborhood where you had to fight at the drop of a hat.”
Carlson was shocked when appraiser Simeon Lipman said the letter would sell for at least $15,000 at an auction.
“Oh gee, I’m gonna faint. I’m gonna faint,” she said after hearing how much the letter was worth, as a producer and Lipman gave her a chair to sit on.
“Oh man, are they kidding me?” she continued, shouting excitedly to the people nearby, “Did you all hear that, did you all hear that?”
Carlson then pointed to someone off-camera and said with a laugh, “He offered me a hundred dollars for it! You can’t have it for a hundred dollars!”
She also whispered to the producer, “If I ever sell it, the money goes to Salvation Army. The more the merrier!”
Before that, Carlson told the story of how she got hold of the letter. She said she always read the Chicago Daily News and that her favorite columnist was Royko because he was “always for the underdog.”
When Sinatra fired off the letter to Royko, the latter published it in the newspaper and said he would sell it to the highest bidder, and the money would go to the Salvation Army.
Carlson decided to bid on the letter using the $400 Mother’s Day check she got from her family. A couple of weeks later, Royko called to inform her that she had won the bid.
Antiques Roadshow uploaded Carlson’s segment on their YouTube channel, and many home viewers commented on how fun the scene was to watch. Here are some of their reactions.
“She has the most wholesome reaction on this entire show. She is so lovely and cute!”
“Wow! What a segment! She has to be the sweetest lady on the planet. And that letter is an absolute gem. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went for $30k in today’s market.”
“I feel that this young lady is an absolute blast to hang out with. Best reaction I have ever seen on this show.”
The cute moment was from a 2009 episode of “Antiques Roadshow,” filmed in Madison, Wisconsin. Carlson’s appearance was featured in a recent collection of music-related appraisals from the show’s history.
The letter would be worth $20,000 today, according to a note at the end of the segment.
Carlson, who owned the antique shop Vie’s Antiques in Loves Park, Illinois, passed away at 87 three years later in 2012.
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