American fitness instructor Milton Teagle “Richard” Simmons (born July 12, 1948) is a cultural icon who has appeared on countless TV shows since the late 1970s. He promotes weight-loss programs, prominently through his Sweatin' to the Oldies line of aerobics videos, and is known for his eccentric, flamboyant, and energetic personality.
An obese and unhappy child, Simmons began his weight-loss career by opening a gym called Slimmons in Beverly Hills, California, catering to the overweight, and he became widely known through exposure on television and through the popularity of his own range of consumer products. He is often parodied (remember the Robotic Richard Simmons in The Simpsons? “C’mon, big boy! Shift some butter off those buns!”) and was a frequent guest of late night television and radio talk shows, such as the Late Show with David Letterman and The Howard Stern Show.
However, and oddly for one so prominently in the public eye, he has not appeared in public since February 2014; his gym quietly closed in late 2016 without him making any public statement, and his disappearance led to speculation that he was being held hostage by his housekeeper. In March 2017, LAPD detectives visited his home, and later issued a statement saying that Simmons is “perfectly fine”, and “very happy”. Detective Kevin Becker later told People magazine that “we went out and talked to him he is fine, nobody is holding him hostage. He is doing exactly what he wants to do. If he wants to go out in public or see anybody he will do that. I don’t know what he is going to do, but right now he is doing what he wants to do and it is his business.”
The following month, following a spell in hospital, Simmons made his first public comment in over a year, posting a Facebook message to say that “I’m not ‘missing’, just a little under the weather”. Yet speculation grew, and a media witch-hunt ensued - quite literally when a ‘friend’ claimed that he was under the spell of witchcraft. A tracking device was attached to his car and paparazzi camped outside his home in the hope of grabbing an elusive, exclusive, snap. Although he made it clear that he did not want to be seen, in a telephone interview Simmons gave a few clues as to why he had gone to ground. “Sometimes we get lost in our sadness,” he revealed. In an interview in 2013 Simmons was close to tears when he stated that “when the king gest depressed, he doesn’t call for his wife, or the cook, he calls for the little man with the pointy hat. And he says to the Court Jester ‘Make me laugh’… and I am that Court Jester.” He underwent a double knee replacement that, for someone so used to being so fit and agile, must have been hell for him.
In May 2017, Simmons sued the National Enquirer, Radar Online and American Media, Inc. for libel after claims were made that he was undergoing gender reassignment. He lost the lawsuit, and was ordered to pay the defendants’ fees, with the judge ruling that “misidentification of a person as transgender is not actionable defamation.” If you want to know more about his whereabouts you can tune in to the six-part Missing Richard Simmons podcast, hosted by former The Daily Show producer Dan Taberski.
Now 70 years old, Richard, we hope that whatever personal demons you’re battling with you come out the other side happy and healthy. But until then, here are a couple of cuts from his 1983 exercise album Reach.
Download This Time HERE
Download Don't Tell Me HERE