One of the stranger celebrity sagas of recent years is the "disappearance" or sudden recluse status status of the flamboyant exercise mogul, talk-show stalwart Richard Simmons. In his star-spangled gym shorts, he used to seem to be everywhere, hawking his Deal-a-Meal cards, his Sweatin' to the Oldies videos, his over-the-top personality.
He was a punchline for countless comics. And a saint to the thousands he helped lose weight and get into shape.
Then suddenly, in early 2014, Richard seemed to drop off the face of the Earth. He stopped showing up to his exercise classes at his Slimmons Studio in Beverly Hills. His TV and radio appearances completely dried up. There were grim speculations that Richard had become some sort of slave to his own housekeeper. That he was transitioning into a woman.
In March 2016 he broke his public silence in a phone interview with Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show saying, "No one is holding me in my house as a hostage. 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!"
Eight months later, he closed Slimmons, which had been open for 40 years. "Truly, you don’t need me to tell you what to do anymore," he wrote in a rambling, emotional Facebook post. "You know. It’s within you. It’s in your heart and it’s been there all along. So get up and get moving!"
Filmmaker and former Daily Show producer Dan Taberski, a friend of Richard's -- who frequently took his classes at Slimmons -- recently began a podcast called Missing Richard Simmons. The first episode is already up. And like Richard himself, it's weird and touching. (Update: Looks like Episode Two also was posted today.)
Though he's never been known as a musician, Richard frequently had a song in his heart. Here are a few he's left us. I hope we hear him singing, and sweating and dealing some meals and being his sweet obnoxious self again sometime soon.
First there's this:
Here is one of Richard's classic Letterman appearances
And finally, here's this inspirational ballad.