Rare New Update on Richard Simmons, Who Hasn't Been Seen in 10 Years
The 75-year-old hasn't been seen in public since 2014.
Fitness icon and TV personality Richard Simmons was such a constant in pop culture starting in the '80s that it surprised many when he retired from public life nearly a decade ago. In fact, a documentary looking into his disappearance titled TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons was released last year. During the star's nine years out of the spotlight, he and his representatives have released occasional statements to assure fans that he's doing well and is living a private life by choice. The latest statement, released to Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday, marks Simmons' 75th birthday.
Read on to find out the latest on Simmons and to learn more about the mystery surrounding his retirement.
Simmons turned 75 on July 12.
In honor of his 75th birthday, Simmons' representative, Tom Estey, gave an update on the exercise star to Entertainment Tonight.
"This is a big milestone. I just want to see him happy, which he is," the statement reads.
ET notes that the statement is similar to an update that was released on the occasion of Simmons' 70th birthday in 2018.
"He's doing very well. He's his jovial self," a friend of Simmons' said at the time. "He spends most of his time at home and in his yard. He keeps up with his reading and does what he wants to do. He deserves this time to himself. Seventy years is a milestone but he doesn't look at it that way."
A documentary investigated his sudden departure from public life.
In 2022, Hulu released TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons. As reported by TV Insider, the documentary includes past interviews with Simmons and features new interviews with those who know him to paint of picture of a man who was more insecure with fame than his public persona let on. The documentary concludes that Simmons probably left public life due to a double knee surgery that changed his view on retirement and limited his ability to exercise. In addition to ceasing TV appearances, he also stopped working at his gym in 2014. It has since closed.
An anonymous LAPD officer, who had been in contact with Simmons, said in the documentary that Simmons "didn't want to be remembered as this frail guy. He wanted to be remembered as a guy that millions of people loved and watched. And that's why he disappeared."
There is also a podcast focused on Simmons' whereabouts that was released in 2017, titled Missing Richard Simmons.
Simmons spoke out after the documentary.
Following the release of What Really Happened to Richard Simmons, Simmons posted a message for fans on his Facebook that reads, "Thank you, everyone, for your kindness and love! Love, Richard."
Estey also released a statement at the time, telling the New York Post, "Richard is eternally grateful for the continuous outpouring of love and gratitude he has received from across the Globe. He is happy, healthy and living the life he has chosen to live."
The spokesperson also said that Simmons had posted the Facebook message himself, and that it was his first personal correspondence with fans in six years.
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He debunked a conspiracy theory a few years earlier.
In 2016, Simmons slammed a conspiracy theory that emerged regarding his disappearance. A rumor circulated that he was being held hostage by his housekeeper. Simmons spoke to Today via phone to put a stop to the gossip.
"No one is holding me in my house as a hostage," he said. "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!"
He added of the theory, "That's just very silly." He said that his housekeeper "has been with me for 30 years. It's almost like we're a married couple."
In 2017, a welfare check was performed by the LAPD at Simmons' home. Detective Kevin Becker told People, "There was something about his housekeeper holding him hostage and not allowing people to see him and preventing him from making phone calls and it was all garbage and that's why we went out to see him. None of it is true." Becker said that Simmons was "fine." The detective continued, "He is doing exactly what he wants to do. If he wants to go out in public or see anybody he will do that."
He explained why he retreated from the spotlight.
Simmons also told Today why he decided to live a private life after being a public figure for so long.
"I just sort of wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a little while," he said. "You know, I had hurt my knee, and I had some problems with it, and then the other knee started giving me trouble because I've taught like thousands and thousands of classes, and you know right now I just want to sort of take care of me." He added, "I just really don't want to do anything, you know. I just don't want to be traveling anymore. It certainly has taken its toll on me, so it was not like over a day, it was just over some time."
He also told fans that he'd be returning, though this was seven years ago.
"For all the people that were worrying about me, I want to tell them that I love them with my whole heart and soul and that not to worry, Richard's fine," Simmons said. "You haven't seen the last of me. I'll come back, and I'll come back strong."