On Feb. 15, 2014, the fitness guru disappeared from the public eye and stopped speaking with close friends. He hasn’t been seen since, leaving many to wonder about his safety. Recently, interest in the reclusive celebrity has grown with the launch of “Missing Richard Simmons,” a new podcast hosted by former “The Daily Show” producer Dan Taberski. It’s quickly become the most popular podcast on iTunes.
On it, an old rumor resurfaced: that Simmons’s maid Teresa Reveles is holding the aerobics instructor at his home against his will.
“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,” Detective Kevin Becker told People.
“The fact of the matter is 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.”
Added Becker, “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.”
“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage,” he said in the call. “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.”
When asked about the rumor that Reveles had him under house arrest, Simmons responded, “That’s just very silly. Teresa Reveles has been with me for 30 years. It’s almost like we’re a married couple.”
Instead, he claimed to just want some alone time.
“I just sort of wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a while,” he told host Savannah Guthrie over the phone. “You know, I had hurt my knee, Savannah, 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.”
Taberski doesn’t seem to fully believe the phone call, though.
“It was a weird, concerning phone call. It was weird that it was a phone call and not an in-person thing. It sort of raises the question of why was he hiding?” he told Los Angeles magazine.
Simmons’s spokesman Tom Estey, however, doubled down on Simmons’s statements.
“He made a choice to take a break from public life, which he has the right to do,” Estey told People. “People need to respect that and not surmise that there’s something wrong, when there’s nothing wrong. For 40 years, he took care of everyone else but himself. And so it’s not that he’s being selfish, he’s just being a person, a regular person, taking care of himself.”
Why, then, is there a popular podcast about a missing man who isn’t actually missing?
Some have accused Taberski of attempting to make a name off the reclusive celebrity. The Washington Post’s Dan Zak called the podcast a “loving invasion of Simmons’s privacy.”
Taberski, though, claimed he wants to do more than merely find Simmons — or an audience.
“What we’re doing is something of a grand gesture,” Taberski told The Post’s Dan Zak. “We are reminding him that what he did was important and that he helped countless people and they love him for it. There’s something about him, maybe, that he doesn’t believe, and hopefully this will jar that part of him.”