Richard Simmons, a prominent figure on television during the 1980s, captured the hearts of many with his eccentric and lively personality, motivating countless Americans to pursue their weight-loss and fitness aspirations.

However, Simmons mysteriously withdrew from public view in 2014, completely disappearing from the spotlight. This sparked a flurry of wild theories attempting to explain his absence.

Despite the speculation, the true reason behind Simmons’ disappearance in 2014 may be quite simple, and it might surprise you.

On July 12, 1948, Milton Teagle Simmons adopted the persona of Richard Simmons, becoming an American fitness guru and television personality. Despite facing challenges such as a paralyzed leg, he persevered and became known for his energetic and motivating fitness routines.

Richard Simmons spent his formative years in the vibrant atmosphere of the French Quarter in New Orleans, where his parents, both involved in the entertainment industry, resided. His mother earned a living as a tap dancer, performing in variety shows along Bourbon Street.

Growing up in this lively neighborhood, Richard developed a knack for engaging with people, which he later capitalized on by giving tours to tourists visiting landmarks like St. Louis Cathedral and the Musee Conti wax museum. His entrepreneurial spirit also led him to start his first job, selling pralines on street corners in the French Quarter.

Richard Simmons recalled, “To assist my parents financially, I sold these little chocolates called pralines on the street corner. People would buy my candy if I was cute, adorable, and entertaining if I sang and smiled. I realized a long time ago that comedy was a talent, and it was far better to make people happy than sad. So, I’ve always been the court jester or clown.”

Richard Simmons’ childhood friends described him as a “hilarious” person who was always joking around.

Despite his eventual career in fitness, Richard struggled with being overweight as a child. Growing up in the French Quarter of New Orleans, he was surrounded by tempting fried foods, which contributed to his weight issues. Reflecting on his childhood, Richard remarked, “Food was my only obsession. My father had hundreds of cookbooks in the kitchen when I was six, so I started reading them then. I was addicted to cooking and trying out new dishes.”

Richard Simmons changed his name from Milton Teagle to Richard for a fresh start and to pursue a career in entertainment and fitness. After graduating from Florida State University in the 1970s, he moved to Los Angeles and began working as the head waiter at a Beverly Hills restaurant.

The change in name likely served as a way to reinvent himself professionally and distance himself from his past, allowing him to pursue his ambitions in the entertainment industry with a new identity.

Richard Simmons adopted the name Richard after being called “Dickie” in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and later receiving the name from a wealthy uncle who promised to support his college education. With a newfound interest in fitness, Simmons embarked on a journey to transform his body and mind, moving away from unhealthy habits and embracing exercise and balanced nutrition.

In the mid-1970s, he launched “Slimmons,” a health club aimed at helping overweight individuals, which propelled him to television fame. His appearances on various TV shows led to a recurring role on the soap opera “General Hospital,” where he gained further recognition as a beloved TV personality.

“I must have appeared like an alien to them on that show, but they were incredibly kind, and I learned a lot from them,” Richard reflected in 2012. “I found the whole experience fascinating, especially when I met General Hospital fans in various American shopping malls. I couldn’t believe all these people would come out to see me.”

In the 1980s, Richard began hosting numerous TV shows of his own. As “The Richard Simmons Show” gained popularity, the quirky fitness expert once again emphasized the importance of wholesome food, cooking, and exercise.

“I enjoyed what I did for five years. I also hosted ‘Here’s Richard,’ a late-night variety program. I believe that was in 1982 or 1983. After that, there was ‘Slim Cooking,’ and I produced 31 infomercials,” Richard recalled.

Richard Simmons’ enthusiasm, charm, and motivating personality endeared him to millions of fitness enthusiasts. He was a frequent guest on talk shows like David Letterman’s and The Howard Stern Show in the 1980s and 1990s.

Appearing almost everywhere, Richard won over many with his cheerful demeanor, sparkly tank tops, and short shorts.

“I receive between 25,000 and 30,000 letters a day, and I travel a lot to meet these people, who are like family to me. I don’t consider myself famous. I mainly connect with folks who are similar to me,” Richard said in 1981.

His distinctive curly hair was hard to miss in photos, and over the years, Richard frequently dyed it in vibrant hues. But what’s the real story behind his iconic fake afro?

There’s another aspect to Richard’s story as well. In an interview with The Pantagraph in 2008, he revealed that the hair on his head was the result of three “horribly painful” hair transplants.

At 19, Richard experimented with numerous risky diets, one of which left him bald—a devastating outcome. In response, he underwent surgery to implant 4,000 follicles in his scalp to restore what was lost.

Reflecting on this period, Richard spoke candidly about his struggles: “When I was 19, I went without food for two and a half months, lost 116 pounds, and was on the verge of death. And I had to have a rebirth at that particular time in my life.”

Despite his challenges, Richard remained committed to his mission of making people laugh and helping them improve their health. It was his lifelong goal, one he tirelessly pursued.

Richard’s journey in fitness and weight loss has led him to unexpected places from his childhood dreams. His innate desire to uplift and motivate others was evident in 2008 when he worked with lawmakers to pass a law mandating non-competitive physical education in public schools.

In a bold move, Richard addressed the House Education and Labor Committee in July 2008, advocating for improved physical education in public schools. Standing out in his signature sparkly tank top and red-and-white striped shorts, he shared his journey and urged legislators to take note.

“Not everyone is a natural athlete. Not everyone can excel in sports or run marathons. But everyone can be fit. There are no limits to what you can achieve when you feel good about yourself when you have self-esteem and self-respect,” Simmons passionately stated, emphasizing the importance of physical well-being for all.

Despite his extensive time in the public eye, scant details about Richard Simmons’ personal life have surfaced. He acknowledges having millions of supporters but few close friends. Simmons, a devout Catholic, has maintained a private stance on his personal life, believing there isn’t much to divulge.

“I can’t offer much to one person. I have a lot to offer many people,” Simmons shared in a 2008 interview with The Pantagraph, highlighting his focus on serving and connecting with a broader audience.

In the same interview, Richard characterized himself as a recluse, stating that he resides in the Hollywood Hills with his Dalmatians, each named after characters from the classic film “Gone With the Wind” (Scarlett, Pittypat, Melanie).

Despite numerous rumors about his romantic life, Richard never had any children. In a 1997 appearance on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, actress Kathy Kinney abruptly asserted that Simmons was gay, sparking controversy. O’Donnell opted to cut to commercial without addressing the claims.

“When Richard Simmons was outed by Kathy Kinney on my show, I didn’t try to ‘out’ Richard Simmons. The LGBT community criticized me for insinuating that Richard Simmons was heterosexual. I want to make it clear: Richard Simmons is welcome to discuss his personal life with me on live television at any time. No one else has the right to do so until he deems it appropriate. I told Kathy Kinney, ‘We’ll be right back with a commercial’ for this reason. I’m simply asserting that he has the right to control it. [Loudly] And regardless of which group you think he belongs to or what he stands for, it’s not as important as his truth,” O’Donnell later added.

The mystery surrounding Richard Simmons’ disappearance has only deepened since the fitness expert retreated from public view in early 2014. According to Entertainment Tonight, Simmons was last seen in public at a fundraiser in California in January 2014.

Following that, there was a notable silence surrounding the fitness expert. In 2016, Richard Simmons held his final workout session at his “Slimmons” facility. Shortly after, the club unexpectedly closed its doors without prior notice.

However, a statement was eventually released:

“I established Slimmons in 1974 to empower individuals to transform their lives through enjoyable exercise. It was a place to make connections, listen to and learn from others, lose weight, and gain confidence. I visited Slimmons for each of these reasons as well!

The closure of the gym was attributed to fitness guru Simmons needing time to “take care of himself” after being hospitalized for acute dehydration.

In recent years, various strange stories have emerged regarding Richard Simmons’ withdrawal from the public eye. One such tale suggested that his maid had imprisoned him, prompting Simmons to refute the claim in a Today Show interview. Police visits to his residence confirmed that Simmons was “absolutely OK,” according to a statement from the LAPD, indicating that he was simply pursuing his own desires.

In 2017, Simmons unexpectedly posted a photo of himself on Facebook after rumors circulated about his hospitalization for dyspepsia. While he affirmed that he was not missing and was doing well, questions arose about the authenticity of the image, as it was from 2013.

Throughout these rumors, Richard’s brother, Lenny, has consistently defended him, refuting speculation and providing insights into his brother’s decision to step out of the spotlight. Lenny explained that Richard is leading a peaceful life, enjoying relaxation, and harboring no ill feelings towards anyone. Richard has chosen to remain silent for personal reasons, a decision that Lenny respects and supports.

Tommy Estey, Richard Simmons’ spokesperson, has provided insights into Simmons’ withdrawal from the public eye. Despite aiding millions in weight loss, Simmons focused on others rather than himself for four decades. Known for his sincerity and dedication, Simmons avoided public controversy and spent extensive time personally assisting individuals struggling with wellness.

At 72 years old, Simmons reportedly enjoys a peaceful life away from media attention.

In 2020, Richard Simmons, our beloved fitness icon, offered a glimmer of hope by reportedly resuming posting workout videos on his YouTube page. Despite stepping away from public life, Simmons aims to support people in staying strong and healthy during the pandemic. The instructional videos were filmed before he departed from the public eye, but he hopes that by sharing them, he can promote his positive attitude and inspire more individuals to prioritize a healthy lifestyle.

Expressing his enthusiasm, Simmons stated, “I am thrilled to see that my groundbreaking fitness series, Sweatin’ to the Oldies, remains relevant and beloved. I also hope that many new fans will discover these timeless songs.”