Richard Simmons is generating more attention now than he has in the past five years. Today, ABC News announced the reclusive 68-year-old fitness guru and pioneer was hospitalized for indigestion. He was recently admitted to an undisclosed hospital for the ailment, and he is reported to be in better health and expected to make a full recovery. Apparently, he had been suffering from the problem for the past few days and went to the hospital when the symptoms persisted. According to a statement by his manager, Michael Catalano, Simmons had been having difficulty eating and had “severe indigestion.” No further explanation was made for what caused the indigestion or how Simmons tried to treat it.
The fitness icon has been the subject of much scrutiny and speculation for the past three years. He removed himself from the public eye and had shunned contact with the public and all but a few of his closest friends.
This move fueled speculation that he was suffering from various physical and mental ailments. He finally re-emerged about a year ago to let people know he was all right. He was only taking some time for himself, to recuperate and recover from a lifelong high energy career.
The gastrointestinal issues were certainly a downturn from his good news earlier this month. Michael Catalano announced his company has acquired the licensing for Richard Simmons and is working on deals to release products and merchandise bearing the star’s name. Simmons’ fans hope that Simmons might be returning to the spotlight with public appearances to promote the merchandise.
Any return to the spotlight would be quite a change for Simmons. His unexpected disappearance from the public eye began when he stopped showing up to his Beverly Hills gym, Slimmons. He made no prior public announcement and offered no explanations to his fans. His flight from the public even generated check the welfare calls to his residence by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Despite being off the publicity grid for the past three years, Richard Simmons is still a valuable celebrity commodity. He was the subject of a podcast by Dan Taberski, Missing Richard Simmons. The podcast is so popular there are rumors it could be picked up as a TV series.
Catalano said the merchandising deal will feature products that keep withing the “messaging” of Simmons, health and fitness related products that promote a healthy lifestyle. However, this latest medical problem is the second time Richard has been admitted to the hospital. He was also admitted to Cedars-Sinai Hospital for dehydration back in 2016. The question is how effective of a representative can Simmons be for health products when the only times he is heard about is for multi-day stays in a hospital.
Also, while Simmons was personally involved in the licensing agreement, he has not made a public appearance since 2014. This isn’t the normal behavior for somebody who is preparing to market items bearing their name. However, his reclusive behavior spawned a flood of rumors about him and his state of health, and this speculation followed by a re-emergence could be powerful marketing.
At the height of Simmons popularity, he hosted one of the most popular televised fitness programs on television. His fitness routine was geared around aerobic dance and featured him leading a group of ordinary people in exercises. In today’s era of fitness programs sold through infomercials and streamed from fitness services, his brand of exercise might seem passe. But Simmons’ energetic personality, positive attitude, and flamboyant workout clothing were the driving energy for his successful program. An example of his outgoing and infectious personality can be seen in his 2000 appearance on the Davis Letterman show.
What remains to be seen is if he can continue on with his new business venture given his current state of health. Marketing anything with a celebrity’s name requires public appearances, and given the fitness lifestyle of Simmons, public appearances would have to include physical fitness.
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