What happened to Richard Simmons? The truth behind his mysterious retreat

Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons’ retreat from the public eye is little known for why he did it and is instead a subject of wild speculations and conspiracy theories. The once prolific fitness Guru, known for his widely popular Sweatin’ to the Oldies aerobics videos and flamboyant personality, took a break in February 2014 and has yet to return.

As Simmons had not made any remark to foreshadow his break, people took it upon themselves to dissect the mystery behind his disappearance. The lack of notice and initial silence from his side did little to improve the situation as rumors about him being held against his will caught traction. So, what is the truth?

Close friends of Richard Simmons felt that he was being held hostage in his home by his housekeeper

In early 2016, two years after Simmons had quietly disappeared from public life, his close friends finally aired their concerns about his out-of-character reclusion. Simmons had isolated himself in his home and cut off contact with his friends. Naturally, they became suspicious of the involvement of his longtime housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, and alluded to Simmons being held hostage by her.

A close friend of his told The New York Daily News:

“We were very close. It’s not something that I want to seek publicity about, but we are very concerned. Teresa did turn me away several times. He has missed funerals of close friends. He was the most reliable and caring person on the planet, and then to suddenly vanish? I have come to believe that something else is happening. I don’t think Richard is in there of his own volition.”

Simmons’ former assistant and close friend, Mauro Oliveria, recalled that the last time they spoke was in April 2014. Apparently, Simmons insisted on living in isolation and told Oliveria that they were “never going to see each other again”.

He also noted that Reveles was neglecting Simmons’ health and well-being at the time, citing the one incident where she allegedly proclaimed that she did not care about his treatment while he was ill. Oliveria further claimed that Simmons had answered “Yes” when asked about whether his housekeeper was controlling his life.

“I feel that Richard is now being controlled by the very people that he controlled his whole life. Controlled in the sense that they are taking advantage of his weak mental state. Controlled in the sense that they are controlling his mail, controlling his everything. His brother, the manager, and Teresa. Those three people,” said Oliveria.

Simmons denied the speculations about being held hostage and said that he was taking a break for health reasons

Richard Simmons
Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

After the news of him being held against his will broke out, Richard Simmons decided to clear the air in a phone interview with The Today Show on March 14, 2016 – his first public interview in more than two years. As he spoke with presenter Savannah Guthrie, he sounded upbeat and reassured her that he was in good health. He said:

“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!”

As for the situation with his housekeeper, Simmons called the rumors “very silly” and revealed that Teresa Reveles had been working with him for more than 30 years.

“It is almost like we are a married couple,” he added while describing his relationship with her.

Simmons reasoned that he took a break due to his knee troubles and said that filming thousands of fitness videos and traveling all the time had taken its toll on him. Nonetheless, he promised to come back after his health was stronger.

“Right now, I just want to sort of take care of me. I just really don’t want to do anything,” he said.

Likewise, his representative, Tom Estey, told People Magazine that the hostage claims were “untrue and preposterous” and said that Simmons was simply taking a break after being in the spotlight for 40 years.

Simmons was found to be well and good when the LAPD did a welfare check on him

In January 2015, the Los Angeles Police Department paid a visit to Richard Simmons’ mansion in the Hollywood Hills for a welfare check. An undisclosed friend of his had emailed the County’s district attorney to look into the potential abuse occurring at his place after he went “missing”.

As per TMZ, the police reported that all was well with him and that he was “articulate, lucid, relaxed and appreciative of their concern”. However, Simmons did walk with a limp that was congruent with his knee injury. He told the cops:

“I just want to spend time with myself.”

The celebrity’s last known public post was made on his Facebook account on April 19, 2017, where he assured fans that he was not “missing” and was “just a little under the weather”. In the caption of his photo, he further wrote:

“When you need help you can’t be afraid to reach out and ask for it. We all think we should always be able to solve our problems all by ourselves and sometimes it’s just bigger than we are. I reached out and I hope you will too.”

Despite the uplifting message, some eagle-eyed fans noticed that the photo posted was not a recent one and was instead an old photo that was taken in 2013. Some skeptics found it unsettling and questioned if Simmons was the one behind the “strange” post.