What happened to Richard Simmons?
This question has been haunting fans both old and new. The fitness guru seemingly fell off the face of the Earth a few years ago, and little has been seen of him since. Speculation and stories about Richard Simmons have abounded; there was even a wildly popular podcast that aimed to prove his supposed disappearance.
Simmons, who was born Milton Teagle Simmons in New Orleans, Louisiana, is known as "The Weight Saint" because of his extensive career in the health and fitness industry. In many ways, he revolutionized that industry, putting things like exercise videos, diet and meal plans, and a more health-conscious lifestyle on the map.
While he's always marched to the beat of his own drum, the fact is that Simmons helped a lot of people over the last four decades. As a result, when he apparently vanished in early 2014, people noticed his absence. Clearly, the world felt the loss of Simmons's own unique brand of inspiration, advice, support, and humor.
Keep reading to learn a few things you didn't know about Richard Simmons, his supposed disappearance, and his fascinating life.
Simmons dropped off the grid in the early months of 2014, making his last public appearance in February of that year. Since he'd been keeping a relatively low profile (as compared to his past visibility), his disappearance did not immediately draw concern.
By 2016, friends and fans were worried. His landmark gym, Slimmons, closed without warning, and rumors circulated that he was being held against his will by his housekeeper. Simmons had distanced himself from friends, who thought he was both chronically depressed and in danger. However, he soon reemerged from the ether and tried to put the speculation to rest.
He appeared on The Today Show, saying he was fine, and when the LAPD performed a welfare check on him a year later, they also found him to be safe, healthy, and simply retreating from the public life and persona he'd once cultivated.
On April 19, 2017, Simmons was hospitalized for severe indigestion. In a public Facebook post, he wrote:
“Hope you’re having a beautiful Sunday. I wanted to take a moment to send a big thank you to the wonderful doctors, nurses and staff at Cedars Sinai Medical Center during my short stay there this week. They make you feel good even though you’re in the hospital for feeling bad.”
LAPD detective Kevin Becker said that Simmons is "in great spirits... laughing and joking and talking." Although he's retreated from the public eye, it sounds like he's doing well.
The National Enquirer and Radar Online published articles alleging Simmons was transitioning to become a woman. Simmons sued the publications, saying he's not offended by the implication that he was transitioning, but that the articles were false and defamed his character.
In March of 2017, a judge ruled that alleging someone is transgender is not considered defamatory, and he ordered Simmons to compensate the media outlets for $130,000 in attorney's fees.
In April 2017, Prominent Brand + Talent signed a deal with Simmons and acquired exclusive rights to his merchandising, endorsements, and licensing opportunities. Michael Catalano, Simmon's manager, said that Simmons may move back into the public eye to promote any "inspiration-themed products" that result from the deal.