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The Real Reason Richard Simmons Disappeared Is Tragic - Where Is He Now?
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Celebrities

The Real Reason Richard Simmons Disappeared Is Tragic - Where Is He Now?

In the age of social-media fitness influencers, Richard Simmons stands out as the O.G. That legacy remains rock solid, despite his disappearance from the spotlight.

Often noted for his candy-striped bicycle shorts and bedazzled tank tops, Richard Simmons was a fixture in American fitness and popular culture. For more than four decades, the fitness guru and entrepreneur was featured on television shows, cookbooks and, of course, as the face behind the world-famous Los Angeles fitness studio, Slimmons. However, in 2014, Richard Simmons disappeared from the public eye.

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This is a 74-year-old man whose boundless energy, inclusivity, and upbeat personality saved thousands, yet who was there to save him in his time of need?


A Podcast Reached Out to a Missing Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons young wearing a striped red and shite t-shirt.

Filmmaker Dan Taberski's released the "Missing Richard Simmons" podcast in February 2017. Taberski simply wanted to track down his old friend after Simmons mysteriously stopped showing up to the workout class he had taught for more than 40 years. He fell off the grid, and even cut off his closest friends.

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The podcast explored the theories about Simmons' abrupt disappearance, and even spoke with friends and family of the workout guru. Simmons was quick to respond to the buzz surrounding the podcast. He took the opportunity to address his fans through an April 2017 statement to People magazine:

“Hello to everyone who has shown concern for me and sent their good wishes. You will never know how much it means to me. Aren’t you sick of hearing and reading about me?! LOL Well by now you know that I’m not ‘missing,’ just a little under the weather. I’m sure I will be feeling good and back home in a couple of days..."

Wild Theories About Simmons' Disappearance

Richard Simmons standing on a desk with his arms spread out.

In August 2022, TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons was released, and fueling more speculation about his disappearance. While the documentary explored some far-out theories -- including that Simmons was being held hostage by his housekeeper -- the real explanation was finally revealed. Simmons simply suffered a knee injury.

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(Simmons himself shot down the housekeeper theory in a 2016 call to the Today show: "Right now, I just sort of want to take care of me. I just really don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to be traveling anymore … it’s taken a toll on me.”)

Richard Simmons Wasn't Anyone's 'Hostage'

Richard Simmons

A doctor in the TMZ Investigates documentary said, "Around the time he disappeared, he needed a left knee replacement. If he didn't get one, he might never be able to exercise again." Apparently, the possibility of surgery and a sedimentary life caused Simmons to sink into a deep depression.

Simmons once again took the opportunity to squash any sort of wild rumors sparked by the documentary. His representative, Tom Estey released a statement, "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.”

Simmons also posted his own brief Facebook statement on Aug. 24, 2022, thanking supporters "for Thank you, everyone, "for your kindness and love!"

What Happened to Richard Simmons' Knee?

Richard Simmons in orange tank top smiling and raising his arm.

Simmons’ knee problems began in 2014, and required extensive surgery. However, the right-knee replacement was painful, and delayed work on his left knee. As far as sources know, to this day, Simmons still hasn't received corrective surgery on his left knee, and he requires a cane to walk. He has never been the same person since.

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Simmons has always been concerned with his legacy and image. The documentary claims he wants to be remembered as a "vibrant, healthy man," and not "an elderly man with medical problems."

A Legacy of Fitness and Inclusivity

Screen shot 2022 09 15 at 3
Richard Simmons instructing a fitness class at Slimmons

The flamboyant, frizzy-haired fitness guru didn't have an easy start. He was born and raised in New Orleans and, from a very early age, he began to over-eat. Simmons' obesity took a negative toll on his self-worth.

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In an emotional interview from the 1980s, Simmons admitted, “I went through a lot of hurt as a child. I was the largest child in school. At the age of 15, I was 200 pounds. I went to my first Halloween party dressed as a couch. I was the one made fun of; I felt very bad about myself."

Simmons relocated to Los Angeles while in his early 20s, and noticed that most fitness clubs were targeting people who were already fit. That's when he decided to make it his mission to create a fitness environment open to people of all shapes and sizes.

'Sweatin' to the Oldies' Made Fitness Fun - and Profitable

Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies
Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies

It wasn't long before word spread about Simmons' eccentric fitness classes and he began selling workout videos and tapes. Simmons has sold about 65 million tapes, DVDs and cassettes. His bestselling fitness tape, Sweatin’ to the Oldies, grossed more than $200 million alone.

Richard Simmons has helped to change so many people's lives, as they looked to him for health and fitness motivation. He opened the door for people of all ages, shapes and sizes to achieve their goals and better their lives. In doing so, he created a legacy that few can ever replicate.

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