Depending on whom you believe, flamboyant fitness guru and pop culture icon Richard Simmons is being held hostage by his maid, or he has consciously retreated from public life for some privacy, please. Mass speculation that something might be up with Simmons began in November 2014 when TMZ noted that Simmons hadn’t been seen in public for a year at that point, and pointed to possible depression over a knee replacement he was ordered by doctors to undergo or something “more serious...” Then last year the New York Daily News published thousands of words spelling out the hostage theory in a piece called “The Haunted Twilight of Richard Simmons,” in which a source suggested that Simmons was being tormented by black magic. The national obsession has a reached a fever pitch with the production of Dan Taberski’s Missing Richard Simmons podcast, which, as of this post’s publication, is No. 1 on iTunes’ Top Podcasts chart (additionally, three of its episodes are in the Top 5 of iTunes’ Top Episodes chart).
Speculation is rampant, but potentially thinning out the thick plot comes a brief report from the Los Angeles Times, which suggests that Simmons is A-OK (if you trust the Los Angeles Police Department):
The latest update on Simmons’ condition comes from none other than the Los Angeles Police Department.
Sgt. Jack Richter told The Times that detectives undertaking the wellness check reported “he was fine” and attributed the fervor to Internet silliness.
And yesterday, TMZ reported much the same thing:
Richard Simmons is doing “perfectly fine” contrary to reports he’s being held hostage by his housekeeper ... at least according to cops.
Law enforcement sources tell us ... LAPD officers went to the 68-year-old’s Hollywood Hills home 2 weeks ago for a welfare check ... this after at least one person contacted the cops and said Richard was being held hostage. Our sources say the officers spoke to Richard at length and determined he is of “sound mind and perfectly fine.”
The visit comes on the heels of a popular podcast alleging Richard’s being held against his will by his longtime friend/housekeeper because he hasn’t been seen in over 1,000 days.
On this week’s episode of Watch What Happens Live, the eternally wise RuPaul hypothesized that Simmons was indeed sick of it all and had resolved to live a private life. The strange, somewhat abrupt, incredibly secretive behavior of those close to Simmons would seem to suggest something nefarious, but the answer could very well be way less titillating than the buzz.
For his part, Simmons said in a Today interview (via phone, which: hmmmm) last year, “No one is holding me in my house as a hostage. 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!”