Richard Simmons was once the flamboyant king of keeping fit, but the star has kept out of the spotlight of late. Now, with fans worried about his own health, shocking new details have emerged that may explain Simmons’ mysterious absence. And the news is unlikely to put his followers at ease.
But although we know him for his exuberant nature and fondness for fighting fat, Simmons wasn’t always so healthy. As a child, for instance, the future star was out of shape and struggled with obesity. Even medication and established weight-loss programs did little to decrease his size. As a result, then, Simmons once tipped the scales at 268 pounds.
And although he was still cast in the 1969 film Fellini Satyricon, Simmons knew he needed to change. So, at the urging of a concerned individual, the future health guru made one last bid to lose weight. Consequently, he underwent an arduous crash course of diet and exercise and lost an astounding 112 pounds in two and a half months.
Nevertheless, Simmons’ work wasn’t over. Indeed, although he himself had lost weight, he knew that there were still many who needed that extra push. So, in 1974 he launched his own Beverly Hills fitness studio with the intention of imparting his workout know-how. Eventually named Slimmons, the center became a success and put him on the path towards stardom.
Simmons was subsequently featured on NBC’s Real People, with his larger-than-life persona ultimately attracting attention. The fitness guru also starred in General Hospital before finally gaining his own series, The Richard Simmons Show, in 1980. Certainly, his potential seemed to have no limits.
As Simmons’ fame grew, moreover, so did his messages’ reach, and his audience increased into the millions. Besides his talk show appearances and work-out videos, he also maintained an exhaustive schedule of 250 in-person shows a year. But that wasn’t all, since the star also released his own cookbooks and developed tailor-made workout regimes for those with disabilities.
Nevertheless, Simmons’ fame has decidedly waned in recent years, although his retreat from celebrity has seemingly happened without warning. What’s more, it’s almost begun to seem as though the fitness fanatic doesn’t want to engage with the wider world at all.
You see, following four decades of stardom, Simmons dropped off the radar in 2014. That year, he stopped attending his fitness studio, halted public appearances and even ceased using his Instagram account. And there was no recognition of his withdrawal from fame nor any social media statement by way of explanation from the star, leaving his disappearance as mysterious as it was unanticipated.
Then, as months turned into years, and Simmons remained reclusive, fans grew increasingly concerned for his health and safety. And, naturally, people wanted to know why Simmons had abruptly decided to turn his back on fame. Consequently, conspiracy theories regarding his whereabouts flooded gossip sites; the public statements of some of his closest friends have only added to the subsequent intrigue.
In particular, Simmons’ ex-massage therapist Mauro Oliveira has made some bold proclamations about his former employer’s situation. In March 2017 Oliveira joined Dan Taberski, on the Missing Richard Simmons podcast; there, he claimed that the fitness guru was being kept captive by housekeeper Teresa Reveles.
A 2016 article in the National Enquirer had alleged, meanwhile, that the fitness fanatic had transitioned and was now named Fiona. However, Simmons’ publicist, Tom Estey, would describe this particular story to the Daily Mail as being “crap.” In an interview with People magazine the following year, Estey used similarly salty language to deride Oliveira’s claims.
“Richard made a choice to live a more private life,” Estey told People. “We were turning down stuff for years and just kind of quieting down. And when he decides that he wants to come back, that’s when he’ll come back. When that will be, I have no idea – or if he will at all.”
“After 40-odd years, he just decided that he wants some rest,” Simmons’ brother, Lenny, added to People. “He’s in good health, but he just wants time to himself.” Nonetheless, perturbed by Oliveira’s comments, the LAPD still paid Simmons’ home a visit to check on the star’s safety. Thankfully, they found no signs of wrongdoing.
But while these theories as to why Simmons vanished may have been repudiated, interest in the star’s fate is still strong. In fact, Taberski’s Missing Richard Simmons was the top podcast on iTunes in March 2017. A new piece of the puzzle has been revealed, though, that may just settle the story once and for all.
In May 2017 several publications, including People and The Hollywood Reporter, received copies of a lawsuit filed by Simmons against multiple news services. Taking aim at Radar Online and The National Enquirer in particular, the document sought reparations for the allegedly libellous stories concerning Simmons’ absence from public life.
But although the lawsuit was mainly targeted at established media groups, one particular name stood out. In a surprising twist, Oliveira – described as “not a credible or reliable source” in the suit – was singled out as an informant. However, untrustworthiness wasn’t the only crime he was accused of.
The suit also asserted, for example, that Oliveira had in fact been stalking and blackmailing Simmons. Moreover, the document claimed that Oliveira had been following the star for some time “with the intention of destroying the career and reputation of Mr Simmons.” The reports about Simmons’ supposed gender reassignment and kidnapping were allegedly a means to this end.
And despite not naming Oliveira as a defendant, the suit still implied that the masseuse’s conduct has had a major influence on Simmons’ life. In fact, People magazine has suggested that Oliveira’s meddling has resulted in the star’s “further retreat from the spotlight.” Of course, none of this can possibly be confirmed until the lawsuit makes it to court.
But even if the legal proceedings may not be the return to the spotlight that Simmons’ fans were hoping for, there have been signs recently that he is ready to come out of the woodwork. In April 2017 Simmons even took to Facebook to thank his concerned fanbase and joke about his absence, writing, “Aren’t you sick of hearing and reading about me!? LOL.”
Furthermore, the sudden surge in public interest in Simmons has led to renewed industry attention. In particular, agency PROMINENT Brand + Talent has taken on responsibility for his merchandising and stated that it’s interested in expanding his portfolio. Could this be the first sign of a career comeback? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.