Richard Simmons was considered to be one of the most energetic and animated personalities around in the 1980s. Following his battle with obesity, the fitness guru quickly gained fame for his motivational weight loss programs and often showcased his eccentric character during appearances on several late-night shows. Since then, Simmons, now 67, has become quite the opposite as he lives a quiet, reserved life at his Hollywood Hills home.
Before kicking off his highly successful career, the TV personality (né Milton Teagle Simmons) suffered from both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa in his youth, which he has spoken publicly about. He often turned to unhealthy diet methods, including diet pills, to lose weight. After developing an interest in fitness, Simmons eventually lost 123 pounds and opened his own exercise studio. The Anatomy Asylum, which has since been renamed Slimmons, was created to be a supportive environment where people could exercise and learn about healthy eating and portion control.
In 1980, he started his own talk show titled The Richard Simmons Show. The TV program was an instant success, airing for four seasons and winning several Daytime Emmy Awards.
Simmons was also a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows, including The Howard Stern Show, Late Show With David Letterman and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Throughout his rigorous schedule, he also published several self-help books and cookbooks.
In the early 2000s, the workout expert’s public appearances started to slow down. He was featured in several short advertisements for companies including Sprint, Yoplait and ESPN, and even made a brief cameo on a 2003 episode of Arrested Development.
In late 2013, Simmons dropped out of the spotlight completely and reportedly ceased communication with everyone in his personal life. Two of his closest friends opened up to the New York Daily News in March 2016 to reveal that the star suddenly became reclusive and wouldn’t even leave his house to attend funerals. According to pals, this behavior was extremely unlike the bubbly Simmons they once knew.
The Sweatin’ to the Oldies star traveled to Europe with his longtime friend and former assistant Mauro Oliveira, manager Michael Catalano, his accountant and two relatives in November 2013. During their last day in Venice, Italy, Simmons left his hotel room in a purple wig, purple lipstick, a fur coat and earrings. Oliveira told the Daily News that it wasn’t unusual for Simmons to wear women’s clothing, but called this outfit “extreme” and noted that the fitness star was acting out of the ordinary.
In April 2014, Simmons called Oliveira to his mansion to explain that he needed to be alone, adding, “We’re never going to see each other again.” After Oliveira pressed for more information, the star’s live-in housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, yelled, “No, no, no! Get out! Get out!” and Simmons whispered, “You’ve gotta go.” Oliveira hasn’t seen Simmons since, according to the newspaper.
“He was the most reliable and caring person on the planet, and then to suddenly vanish?” the close friend told the Daily News in March. “I have come to believe that something else is happening. I don’t think Richard is in there of his own volition. I feel that Richard is now being controlled by the very people that he controlled his whole life. Controlled in the sense that they are taking advantage of his weak mental state. Controlled in the sense that they are controlling his mail, controlling his everything. His brother, the manager and Teresa. Those three people.”
Days after the interview was published, Simmons broke his public silence with two new interviews. He called the hostage rumors “very hurtful” and insisted that his disappearance was entirely voluntary.
“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage,” he said during a phone interview on the Today show in March. “You know, I do what I want to do as I’ve always done, so people should sort of just believe what I have to say because, like, I’m Richard Simmons!”
The actor also phoned Entertainment Tonight, explaining, “I am not kidnapped. I am just in my house right now. No one should be worried about me. The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me.”
On Friday, June 3, Simmons was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after exhibiting “bizarre” behavior, according to TMZ. He was briefly evaluated at the hospital and was released on Saturday, June 4.
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out with love and concern after hearing I was in the hospital,” the entertainer said in a statement to Us Weekly on Sunday, June 5. “I was dehydrated and needed some fluids and now I am feeling great! Summer is here — drink plenty of liquids. Big hugs and kisses for caring.”
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