Doc claims that Richard Simmons left the spotlight for this reason: ‘He’s just not the same guy anymore.’
In ‘TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons,’ Suzanne Somers spoke out about her last interaction with the fitness guru.
Many people have been wondering why Richard Simmons, the flamboyant fitness guru and talk show regular, had abruptly withdrawn from public life.
After decades in the spotlight, the 74-year-old abruptly retired from his workout studio in 2014. He was last seen in public more than eight years ago. Simmons’ disappearance sparked a podcast titled “Missing Richard Simmons,” as well as numerous conspiracy theories claiming the star was being held hostage by his housekeeper in his Hollywood Hills home.
Simmons sued two tabloid publications in 2017 after they claimed he was transitioning into a woman. Simmons’ attorneys have stated that he supports transgender rights, but the allegations have defamed him.
“TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons?” aired on FOX on Monday night, delving into his meteoric rise to fame and unexpected departure from the public eye. It featured interviews with Denise Austin, Suzanne Somers, Bruce Vilanch, and Leslie Wilshire, Simmons’ longtime costume designer.
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According to the documentary, Simmons stepped away from the spotlight for a surprisingly simple reason.
“Doctors told him in 2014, around the time he went missing, that he needed a left knee replacement,” the doctor claims. “He might not be able to exercise again if he doesn’t get one. This is crucial to the disappearance of Richard Simmons. Richard fell into a deep depression as a result of the prospect of surgery and becoming sedentary… We know that Richard has yet to have corrective surgery on his left knee. He walks with a cane, which helps to explain a lot. He’s just not the same person he used to be.”
The outlet claimed Simmons had “two bad knees” in 2014, eight months after he left the public eye. His first operation was allegedly so painful that he postponed the second.
A woman who claimed to have known Simmons for 35 years told the outlet in 2017 that knee problems had kept Simmons in “virtual hiding.”
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According to the documentary, Simmons postponed his second surgery because he was concerned about his ability to recover and whether the procedure would worsen any existing ailments.
“”He wanted to be remembered as a vibrant, healthy man, not an elderly man with medical problems,” the doctor claimed. Richard desired to withdraw before his image was recast as an elderly man. And his knee problems played a significant role in his decision… He had his right knee replaced a few years ago. And I still needed one on the left. He was in a lot of discomfort.”
The special also claimed that one LAPD detective, who did not want to be identified, has spoken with Simmons over the years. Simmons, according to him “he does not want to be remembered as this frail old man He wished to be remembered as a man who millions of people admired and followed. That’s why he vanished.”
Simmons has been compared to Greta Garbo, the Oscar-winning actress of the 1930s who was fiercely protective of her privacy. She retired at the age of 35 and relocated to New York City, where she lived in private until her death in 1990 at the age of 84. According to the special, “the Richard who vanished is more authentically himself” than his “loud” persona.
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“He’s cleverly figured out ways to live in plain sight,” the report claimed. “He’s retired from public life… Richard is an expert at disguising himself.”
Simmons has, however, experienced some heartbreak. Pals revealed that his beloved eight Dalmatians had died over the years. His last dog died when he was 17 years old. Nonetheless, his housekeeper is a “fervently loyal employee and friend.”
Somers described how she noticed Simmons had some insecurities before he withdrew completely.
“I was on the ‘Larry King Show’ one night, and he was either going to be a guest or was supposed to be a guest, and I heard through the Larry King people that he didn’t want to be on the show with me,” the “Three’s Company” star recalled.
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“I asked him, ‘Why?’ and he replied, ‘She’ll make fun of me,'” the 75-year-old explained. “That’s not my style; I never make fun of others. But that’s when I realised I’d let a little insecurity creep in. He appealed to me. I was always surprised when he thought I was going to make fun of him. But doesn’t that indicate he’s in pain? Because he did it, something inside of me has been broken. He had it and then threw it away.”
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Simmons told Fox News Digital that they had no comment on the allegations made in the documentary.
In 2021, Simmons stated that he hoped to introduce a new generation of fans to his classic exercise series, “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.” It was announced at the time that Fuse Sweat, a streaming channel, would include Simmons’ show in its lineup.
“I am very excited that my groundbreaking fitness series, ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies,’ continues to be so relevant and popular, and I hope many new fans discover this timeless classic,” he said in a statement.
“TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons?” will be available on Tubi for free beginning August 30.