Richard Simmons has fans worried again. Less than three months after he assured the world that all was well with him, the 67-year-old fitness guru was rushed to the hospital under mysterious circumstances. Sources told TMZ that Simmons was acting in an extremely bizarre manner late Friday night, and someone at his Hollywood Hills residence became alarmed enough to call 911. Paramedics took Simmons to Cedars-Sinai Hospital for an evaluation, and there is no word yet on his condition. But there is plenty of speculation.
The unexplained hospitalization is just the latest in a series of strange events for Simmons, who dropped out of the spotlight nearly three years ago.
Richard Simmons shot to fame in the 1980s after appearing on the NBC reality show Real People. He also made several cameos on General Hospital as the hospital nurses’ fitness instructor. Richard’s Sweatin’ To the Oldies and Deal-A-Meal infomercials solidified him as a pop culture fixture in the late 90s and early 90s.
But in recent years, Richard Simmons has become a recluse. In March, the New York Daily News published a report that alleged Simmons had banished his closest friends from his inner circle, and that his life was being controlled by his longtime live-in housekeeper, Teresa Reveles. Simmons’ former assistant, Mauro Oliveira, said Simmons has lived the past few years “medicated and in bed,” and that Reveles was his gatekeeper.
“I feel that Richard is now being controlled by the very people that he controlled his whole life,” Oliveira said. “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.”
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Oliveira said Simmons admitted Reveles was controlling him.
“He told me last time we spoke,” Oliveira said. “I asked him, does she control your life? He said ‘Yes.’ And I believe she’s doing black magic, yes I believe that’s what she’s doing.”
According to Oliveira, Richard’s downward spiral began in early 2014 after a trip to Europe. Things took a darker turn two months later after Simmons’ beloved Dalmatian dog died.
“He had 17 years with Hattie [who was put to sleep in April 2014] and well, the mental breakdown,” Oliveira said. “He got completely messed up. He was already having some breakdown, some mental breakdown, some problems with anger management, some falling outs.”
Simmons’ former friend believes the fitness fanatic’s once-happy life ultimately came crashing down.
“I believe it is a culmination of a lifetime,” Oliveira said. “Because he’s always been high on life for his whole life and I think it finally crashed down.”
Richard Simmons fired back with an exclusive phone interview with Entertainment Tonight, explaining that he purposely stepped out of the spotlight to take care of himself following a serious knee injury.
“I am not kidnapped,” Simmons said, “I am just in my house right now. No one should be worried about me. The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me.”
Richard Simmons defended his housekeeper, telling the Today show that the story of him being held captive in his own home was “very silly.”
“Teresa Reveles has been with me for 30 years,” Richard said. “It’s almost like we’re a married couple.”
Richard Simmons has not been seen in public since December, 2013, when he attended a comedy show in Los Angeles, but he explained that after his knee replacement, he decided to take it easy and work out at home. He also denied rumors that he is in hiding because he has gained a lot of weight.
“For the last 40 years I have been traveling, teaching classes, and I had a knee injury, so I had a knee replacement, which was very difficult for me,” Richard told ET. “I have really just been taking it easy, staying at home, working out in my gym and doing the things I haven’t done in a very long time … I still weigh 150. I work out every day. I have a gym at the house, and I am very healthy.”
Simmons promised fans that if he was in trouble or hurting in any way, he would “reach out” to the public.
“It is time right now for Richard Simmons to take care of Richard Simmons,” he said at the time.
But with his sketchy hospitalization, fans are now sufficiently worried about Richard Simmons. Social media reaction to Simmons’ hospitalization has been swift, with actress Patricia Arquette even posting that she had been worried about Simmons all day and didn’t know why. (Hey, didn’t she play a psychic medium on TV?)
UPDATE: TMZ reported that Simmons was released from the hospital on Saturday after being evaluated by doctors. Paramedics at the scene determined Richard needed medical attention as they were unsure if he had suffered a stroke, or is suffering from dementia or some other medical condition. Simmons’ live-in housekeeper reportedly called 911.
Take a look at the video to hear Richard Simmons talking about why he hasn’t been seen in public in years.
[Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images]