Richard Simmons was a reality star before reality TV was a thing. The fitness guru, with his trademark bedazzled tank tops and candy-striped dolphin shorts, aerobicized his way onto talk shows, game shows, sit-coms, and infomercials. Then, in 2014, he suddenly dropped out of sight, worrying many friends and fans.
To understand the shock of Simmons' sudden disappearance, one has to understand the presence the man had in the lives of so many people. Simmons was not just a guy who hawked diet programs and workout videos; he cared about people and their journey. He still led classes live at his fitness studio. He would personally call, text, email and send letters to thousands of his followers on a regular basis to check up on their progress and encourage them to keep on keeping on. His home was open to anyone trying to lose weight or maintain their fitness on a regular basis.
Suddenly, in 2014, it all stopped on a dime. Simmons failed to show up at his studio for classes. They began putting up signs saying he would be back-- and kept replacing those signs with new ones extending the date. Eventually, they just gave up, and Simmons never returned.
He stopped contacting people. He stopped responding to phone calls, texts, and mails. A huge fence went up around his house and no one was let in. No one spotted him for over three years.
Last week, it was reported that Simmons went to the hospital for gastrointestinal problems, a non-emergency, and his fans were thrilled to see he was still alive and kicking. He finally sent a message to reassure his loyal friends and followers.
“LOL Well by now you know that I’m not ‘missing,’ just a little under the weather. I’m sure I will be feeling good and back home in a couple of days," his message read. "Just knowing you care has already made me feel better. Hope to see you again soon!”
No plans have been announced for Simmons' return to the public eye, but many are just happy to know he's okay.