“Missing Richard Simmons” is a social media trend, but what gives? Is Richard Simmons really missing?
The term is the title of a podcast about Simmons, the fitness expert who found fame in the 1980s and onward. The six-episode podcast is centered around efforts to figure out why Simmons has seemingly vanished from the public eye, but his rep has denied its central claims, including that Simmons is a hostage in his own house. You can listen to the podcast here.
According to the Today Show, the podcast – by a man who knew Simmons named Dan Taberski – focuses on Taberski’s efforts to find Simmons because he hasn’t been seen for years.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Simmons’ Representative Denied Claims He’s Being Held Hostage in His House, Calling it a ‘Complete Load of Crap’
According to The Today Show, Simmons’ rep has denied the most sensational allegation – that Simmons is being held hostage in his own home by a housekeeper.
The Today Show reports, “In the podcast’s most recent episode, former employee Mauro Oliveira alleges Simmons’ housekeeper Teresa Reveles is controlling his life,” but, according to NBC, Simmons himself denied this was true last March.
A rep for Simmons, Tom Estes, told People Magazine the claims are “a complete load of crap.” Simmons’ rep told People Magazine the 68-year-old fitness guru’s housekeeper is an “extraordinary woman” and there is nothing to the allegations. “She’s the caretaker, she is extraordinary, she is amazing, she takes impeccable care of Richard,” he said, according to People.
2. Simmons Stopped Attending Exercise Classes & Communicating, the Podcast Contends
Gossip site writer Perez Hilton claims that Simmons has not been seen in public for 1,100 days.
In the podcast, Simmons’ longtime friend Mauro Oliveira claimed that he had last seen Simmons face-to-face in 2014, “three months after Richard stopped teaching his fitness classes and cut off contact.”
He said on the podcast: “It was 6 p.m., and I went into his house. He was sitting in the living room, and he was very weakly, physically and mentally. He was trembling. He said, ‘Mauro. I called you here because we cannot see each other anymore. I’m just going to stay here.’ I thought of the worst. I thought the worst was going to happen. I thought he was suicidal.”
The podcast website alleges: “On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him — and no one knows why he left. Filmmaker Dan Taberski was a Slimmons regular and a friend of Richard’s. Missing Richard Simmons is Dan’s search for Richard — and the deeper he digs, the stranger it gets.”
3. Simmons Gave an Interview Last March in Which He Insisted He’s Fine but Has Otherwise Vanished From the Public Eye
According to Today, Simmons spoke with Today Show anchorwoman Samantha Guthrie last March, and he said he’s OK.
“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage,” Simmons told Guthrie by phone at that time, according to Today. “You know, I do what I want to do, as I’ve always done.” Today also reported that Simmons said then: “All the people that are worrying about me, I want to tell them that I love them with my whole heart and soul, and that not to worry. Richard is fine.”
Rolling Stone reports that the creator of the podcast, Taberski, is a “writer and producer from New York City” who “met Simmons when he joined the class Simmons had led for decades at his Beverly Hills studio.”
“Exercise was never my thing – until I started exercising with Richard Simmons,” Taberski told Rolling Stone. “In less than 30 minutes of a 90-minute class, I found myself bare-chested surrounded by step-clapping middle-aged women as Richard wiped the sweat off my torso with my T-shirt – and then shoved it down his shorts.”
But then Simmons stopped communicating with him.
4. Simmons’ Rep Says the Exercise Guru Just Wanted a More Private Life
Estes told People Magazine that Simmons has just decided to step out of the public eye more.
“Estey says the star has merely decided to step back from the spotlight and live a more private life,” reports People.
People quoted the rep as saying, “Richard made a choice. To live a more private life. If he decides to come back, he’ll come back … People claim that it happened overnight. It really didn’t. We were turning down stuff for years and just kind of quieting down.”
However, paradoxically, Simmons’ desire for privacy is now thrusting him back into the public eye. Social media is awash with memes, jokes, and concern about Simmons’ supposed disappearance.
Rolling Stone says the vanishing started in 2014 when Simmons “posted a message to assure those concerned that he was recovering from a knee injury. Then, he fell into another round of silence as he uncharacteristically missed friends’ funerals and neglected to respond to fan letters.”
5. The Beloved Fitness Guru Has a Net Worth of $15 Million
Simmons has the means to back out of public life. He’s reportedly worth at least $15 million.
The entrepreneur is famous for his classic aerobics series, Sweatin to the Oldies. Simmons, over the years, has also appeared on television, written books, and hosted a radio show. His formerly prolific presence in the public eye has made his withdrawal from public life more stark.