Milton Teagle "Richard" Simmons (born July 12, 1948) is an American fitness instructor, actor, and comedian. He promotes weight-loss programs, prominently through his Sweatin' to the Oldies line of aerobics videos and is known for his eccentric, flamboyant, and energetic personality.
Simmons began his weight-loss career by opening a gym called Slimmons in Beverly Hills, California, catering to the overweight, and he became widely known through exposure on television and through the popularity of his consumer products. He is often parodied and was a frequent guest of late night television and radio talk shows, such as the Late Show with David Letterman and The Howard Stern Show.
Simmons has continued to promote health and exercise through a decades-long career, and later broadened his activities to include political activism – notably in 2008 in support of a bill mandating non-competitive physical education in public schools as a part of the "No Child Left Behind Act". However, he has not appeared in public since February 2014, and his gym quietly closed in late 2016 without him making any public statement. His disappearance from the public eye has led to ongoing speculation and expressions of concern about his well-being. Simmons and those who have been in contact with him have said the concerns are unwarranted.
Simmons was born Milton Teagle Simmons in New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 12, 1948, the son of Leonard Douglas Simmons, Sr. and Shirley May (née Satin). He was born to show business parents and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He has one older brother named Leonard, Jr. His father was raised Methodist and worked as a master of ceremonies and later in thrift stores. His mother was Russian Jewish and was a traveling fan dancer and later a store cosmetics saleswoman.
Simmons later converted to Catholicism and attended Cor Jesu High School, known today as Brother Martin High School. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette before graduating from Florida State University with a degree in Art.
He became obese during his early childhood and adolescence. He began overeating and becoming overweight as early as the age of 4 or earlier, and by the age of 5, he knew it was perceived negatively. At the age of 15, he weighed 182 pounds (83 kg). As a young man, he considered being a priest. As a young adult art student, he had appeared among the "freak show" characters in the Fellini films Satyricon (1968) and The Clowns (1970), and he eventually reached a peak of 268 pounds (122 kg).
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Simmons explained he adopted the name Richard after an uncle who paid for his college tuition. His first job in New Orleans was as a child, selling pralines at Leah's.
Upon moving to Los Angeles in the 1970s, he worked as the Maître d'hotel at Derek's, a restaurant in Beverly Hills. He developed an interest in fitness, but was dissatisfied with the unhealthy fad diets then prevalent, such as the Hollywood/Grapefruit diet, the Scarsdale diet, AYDS "appetite suppressing" candy, and the Atkins diet. Established gyms and exercise studios of the day favored the already fit customer, so there was little real help for those who needed to gain fitness from an otherwise unhealthy state. His interest in fitness helped him lose 123 lb (56 kg).
Simmons later opened his own exercise studio, originally called "The Anatomy Asylum", where emphasis was placed on healthy eating in proper portions and enjoyable exercise in a supportive atmosphere. The business originally included a salad bar restaurant called Ruffage, the name a pun on the word roughage (dietary fiber), though it was eventually removed as the focus of the Asylum shifted solely to exercise. Later renamed "Slimmons", the establishment continued operations in Beverly Hills, and Simmons taught motivational classes and aerobics throughout the week. Slimmons closed in November 2016.
In 2010, Simmons stated that he had kept off his own 100+ pound (45 kg) weight loss for 42 years, had been helping others lose weight for 35 years, and that in the course of his fitness career had helped humanity lose approximately 12,000,000 pounds (5,500,000 kg). Simmons used the web as a method of outreach by running his own membership-based website, and also indicates on his home page that he has established official pages on numerous social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube.
Simmons began to draw media attention due to the success of his health club that began with him on Real People, where he was shown at work. He introduced customers whom he had helped to lose weight. He later made guest roles on the celebrity game shows Battlestars; Body Language; Super Password; Win, Lose or Draw; the ABC version of Match Game; the syndicated versions of Price Is Right & Hollywood Squares; and Nickelodeon's Figure It Out.
Positive viewer reactions landed Simmons a recurring role as himself in General Hospital over a 4-year period. This in turn led to further media notoriety, as well as being in shopping malls, where he taught exercise classes. In the early 1980s, Simmons hosted two shows; Slim Cookin and an Emmy Award-winning talk show The Richard Simmons Show, in which he focused on personal health, fitness, exercise, and healthy cooking. The Richard Simmons Show drew thousands of exercise enthusiasts, including SAG/AFTRA actress Lucrecia Sarita Russo who reportedly transported an entire bus filled with women from Pam's Figure Tique, for a lively workout on the show.
In 1998, Simmons voiced Boone in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie.
Simmons has been featured as himself on numerous television series, including Whose Line Is It Anyway?, CHiPs, Saturday Night Live, The Larry Sanders Show, and on an episode of Arrested Development titled "Bringing Up Buster." In 1999, he hosted a short-lived television series titled DreamMaker. 8 years later, he filmed a pledge drive special for PBS titled Love Yourself and Win.
He has been featured in television advertisements for Sprint, Yoplait, Herbal Essence Shampoos, and toward the end of 2007, he was in a "This is SportsCenter" commercial on ESPN as the show's "conditioning coach." In Canada, Simmons was in an advertisement for Simmons mattresses. The mattress company hired the exercise celebrity because of the similarity in name, and for his appeal to the company's target audience of women over 35. Beyond this, there is no further business partnership between the two.
Rocko's Modern Life has the episode "No Pain, No Gain" where Simmons lent his voice to an exercise trainer bearing his animated likeness. He leads a class filled with large anthropomorphic animals.
For 3 years, he hosted a radio show on Sirius Stars, Sirius Satellite Radio channel 102, titled Lighten Up with Richard Simmons. The show was cancelled in 2008.
- Simmons was a guest on The Rosie O'Donnell Show on November 18, 1997, together with Celine Dion.
- Simmons portrayed himself in Steven Spielberg's 1986 Amazing Stories Season 1: Episode 10 ("Remote Control Man").
- He was a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show in the 1980s and 1990s. The two had a brief friendship off the air, which both Richard and Howard discussed several times on air. While he resolved at one point to refuse future involvement after Stern insulted him one too many times, he returned to the Stern show on November 16, 2006, then returned again January 24, 2012, and September 24, 2013.
- Simmons was also a frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman (NBC) and the Late Show with David Letterman (CBS). On November 22, 2000, they had a falling out after an incident that occurred on that night's show. Simmons (while dressed as a turkey) was sprayed in the face by Letterman with a fire extinguisher after Simmons grabbed Letterman as if to hug or kiss him, causing Simmons to have a severe asthma attack. Simmons did not attend the Letterman show for 6 years, finally returning on November 29, 2006. During that time, Letterman once again set Simmons up for a prank. While Richard Simmons was demonstrating a steamer branded with his name, Letterman insisted on placing a tray under the steamer which Simmons did not believe belonged there. When Simmons turned the steamer on, something in the tray exploded and caught fire, sending Simmons running for his life. Despite the scare, Simmons took the incident in fairly good nature, even joking that he "felt like Michael Jackson" (referring to a mishap where Jackson's hair was set on fire by a pyrotechnics accident).
- He was a guest on the U.S. version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
- Simmons is on tracks 1 and 10 of Bob Rivers' 1997 holiday album More Twisted Christmas.
- Simmons has multiple times been on The Glenn Beck Program on HLN.
- He is featured heavily in the film clip of "Hawker Boat" by Tobacco, taken from the album Fucked Up Friends.
- He provides the voice for Coach Salmons, a reoccurring character modeled after his own likeness, for Fish Hooks, a Disney Channel Original Series that premiered on September 24, 2010. On December 8, 2010, it was announced that the series has been picked up for a second season. Fish Hooks ended after three seasons.
- In 2011, Simmons starred in "Fit to Fly with Richard Simmons", an Air New Zealand inflight safety briefing video modeled after his aerobic workouts.
- In 2012, he was in a Canadian commercial for Telus wireless phone.
- In 2013, he appeared on Extreme Weight Loss as a surprise guest, leading a workout with the contestants.
Simmons is noted for his energetic and motivational demeanor, an attribute he uses to help encourage people to lose weight. His high energy level is always featured in his workout videos. His trademark attire is candy-striped Dolphin shorts and tank tops decorated with Swarovski crystals.
Simmons is known for interacting at a personal level with people using his products. This began by personally answering fan mail he received as a cast member of General Hospital. He still personally answers emails and letters and makes hundreds of phone calls each week to those who seek his help. He also talked to people on the air during his radio show and holds weekly live chats in the "clubhouse" area of his website. His appearances also include a "meet and greet" time so that people can speak to him one on one.
He claims to have few friends, saying, "I don't have a lot to offer to one person. I have a lot to offer to a lot of people." Aside from his three Dalmatians and two maids, Simmons lives alone in Beverly Hills, California. While his sexual orientation has been the subject of much speculation, he has never publicly discussed his sexuality.
Hurricane Katrina response
In September 2005, Simmons was on Entertainment Tonight to discuss the effects of Hurricane Katrina on his family in his hometown of New Orleans, and his involvement in aiding those affected by the hurricane. On August 29, 2006, Simmons was on Your World with Neil Cavuto while making a return visit to New Orleans one year after the flooding, a visit he repeated on March 2, 2007, now talking about his recent trip to Washington, D.C. to promote and raise awareness about The Strengthening Physical Education Act of 2007 (H.R. 1224).
Retreat from public life
Simmons has not made any major public appearances since 2014, and stopped appearing in public at all in February of that year. In March 2016, speculation began that he was being held hostage by his housekeeper.
In response, on March 14, Simmons gave an audio interview on the Today Show, denying the rumors. In November, the Simmons fitness gym closed, without any public announcement from Simmons. In February 2017, the podcast Missing Richard Simmons launched, investigating why Simmons left public life so suddenly.
In March 2017, LAPD detectives visited Simmons' home to conduct a welfare check, issuing a statement that Simmons is "perfectly fine" and that "right now he is doing what he wants to do and it is his business." On April 19, 2017, following a hospitalization for severe indigestion, Simmons made his first public comment in over a year, posting on Facebook a photo of himself and the message "I'm not 'missing', just a little under the weather". However, the picture that was included in the post was several years old – from 2013 or 2014 – and there was some speculation that the person using his account to post the message might not actually have been him.
In a 2012 interview with Men's Health, he had this to say:
When the king gets depressed, he doesn't call for his wife or the cook. He turns to the little man with the pointed hat and says to the court jester 'make me laugh'. And I am that court jester.
— Richard Simmons, Men's Health
In May 2017, Simmons sued the National Enquirer, Radar Online and American Media, Inc. for libel and false claims that he was undergoing gender reassignment. In September 2017, Simmons lost the lawsuit, and was ordered to pay the defendants' attorney's fees. The judge ruled that "because courts have long held that a misidentification of certain immutable characteristics do not naturally tend to injure one's reputation, even if there is sizeable portion of the population who hold prejudices against those characteristics, misidentification of a person as transgender is not actionable defamation absent special damages."
Print and other media
- Never Say Diet
- Never Say Diet Cookbook
- The Better Body Book
- Deal-A-Meal Cookbook
- Reach for Fitness: A Special Book of Exercises for the Physically Challenged
- Richard Simmons' Never Give Up: Inspirations, Reflections, Stories of Hope
- Farewell to Fat
- Sweetie Pie: The Richard Simmons Private Collection of Dazzling Desserts
- Still Hungry After All These Years: My Story
- The Food Mover Cookbook
- Cookin' on Broadway
- Steam Away the Pounds
Analog compact cassette
- Project Me (six tape set)
- Take a Walk
- Take a Hike
- Sweatin' and Sharin With Richard Simmons & Friends
- Walk Across America
- Colors of Your Life (single tape)
- Colors of Your Life (six tape set)
- Secrets of the Winners (single tape)
- Take a Classical Walk
- Walkin' on Broadway
- Walk Around the World
- Never Give Up: Inspirations, Reflections, Stories of Hope (book on tape, read by Simmons)
- Richard Picks the Hits, Volume 1
- Richard Picks the Hits, Volume 2
- Country Cardio
- Oh Happy Day
- Fitness Fiesta
- Wicked Workout
- Big Screen Burn
- Shimmy Into Shape
- In the Mood to Lose
- Classical Chillout
- Reach (Elektra Records, 1983)
- This Time (Elektra Records, 45 rpm 1983)
Digital compact cassette
- Colors of Your Life (single tape) (Goodtimes Entertainment, BASF 90 Min. 1998)
- "Richard Simmons Project H.O.P.E. - Health, Optimism, Passion, Energy"
- Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes
- Disco Sweat
- 60's Blast Off
- 80's Blast Off
- Blast and Tone
- SuperSweatin': Party Off the Pounds
- SuperTonin': Totally Tonin
- SuperTonin': Totally Tonin' with Toning Rings
- Sit Tight
- Sweatin' to the Oldies
- Sweatin' to the Oldies 2
- Sweatin' to the Oldies 3
- Sweatin' to the Oldies 4
- Sweatin' to the Oldies 5
- Love Yourself and Win
- Boogie Down the Pounds
- Tonin' to the Oldies
- Everyday with Richard Simmons
- The Stomach Formula
- Get Started
- Reach for Fitness - A Special Video of Exercises for the Physically Challenged
- Deal Your Way to Health
- Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes
- Sweatin' to the Oldies
- Sweatin' to the Oldies 2
- Sweatin' to the Oldies 3
- Sweat and Shout (also sold as Sweatin to the Oldies 4)
- Day By Day (Volumes 1–12)
- Pump and Sweat
- Step and Sweat
- Tone and Sweat
- Farewell to Fat
- Disco Sweat
- Stretchin' to the Classics
- Dance Your Pants Off!
- Tonin' Uptown
- Tonin' Downtown
- Groovin' In The House
- The Ab Formula
- No Ifs Ands or Butts
- Love to Stretch
- Blast Off
- Broadway Sweat
- Tone Up On Broadway
- Broadway Blast Off
- Platinum Sweat
- Sit Tight
- Latin Blast Off (also marketed as Sudar Mucho)
- Mega Mix Blast Off
- Mega Mix 2 Blast Off
- Disco Blast Off
- 60's Blast Off
- 80's Blast Off
- Blast and Tone
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- ^ Claus von Zastrow on (March 27, 2008). ""Kids Aren't Well-Rounded; They're Just...Rounded"". Public School Insights. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- ^ Simmons (1999) p.21-32
- ^ Still Hungry - After All These Years: My Story (autobiography) 1999
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- ^ Simmons, R (1999), Still Hungry After All These Years; ISBN 1-57719-356-3, p. 157
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The montage of Gay Peter Pan's phone contacts includes out celebrities like Richard Simmons and Rosie O'Donnell
- ^ Rinaldi, Ray Mark (April 23, 2000). "Heroes are hard to find when the're hiding". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. F3.
We've always allowed gay men on the tube – did anyone besides my grandmother really think Liberace was heterosexual? What about Paul Lynde? Richard Simmons? — but the rules are clear. It's all right to be a flamer as long as you agree to keep it secret.
Wieder, Judy (January 21, 2003). "The real Rosie: 365 days of amazing challenges and feisty decisions turned America's sweetheart into the fighter she's always been—and The Advocate's leading lady for 2002. (Person of the Year)". The Advocate (15): 52. ISSN 0001-8996.
When Kathy Kinney came on my show and outed Richard Simmons, I didn't try to "in" Richard Simmons. The gay community accused me of in-ing Richard Simmons, like I was trying to make people think that he was straight. I will tell you this: If Richard Simmons ever wants to discuss his private life with me on national TV, he's welcome to do so. It is not anyone else's right to do that before he decides it's time. That's the reason I said to Kathy Kinney, "We'll be right back with a commercial." I'm simply saying that that right belongs to him. [Loudly] And no matter what community you feel he's a part of or what he represents to you, it is not as relevant as his own truth.
- ^ "Richard Simmons Has Been Missing for Two Years, Friends Concerned He's Being Held Hostage". Yahoo News. 2016-03-13.
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- ^ Kenneally, Tim (September 21, 2017). "Richard Simmons Ordered to Pay National Enquirer's Legal Fees in Transgender Story Lawsuit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1980). Never Say Diet. New York City: Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446512091.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1982). Never Say Diet Cookbook. New York City: Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446512435.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1985). The Better Body Book (1st ed.). New York City: Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446512633.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1987). Deal-A-Meal Cookbook (Spiral-bound ed.). Beverly Hills, California: Deal-a-meal, Inc. ASIN B00071E0XA.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1986). Reach for Fitness: A Special Book of Exercises for the Physically Challenged (1st ed.). New York City: Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446513029.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1993). Richard Simmons' Never Give Up: Inspirations, Reflections, Stories of Hope (1st ed.). New York City: Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446517034.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1996). Farewell to Fat (1st ed.). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-1577191025.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1997). Sweetie Pie: The Richard Simmons Private Collection of Dazzling Desserts (1st ed.). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-1577192763.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1999). Still Hungry After All These Years: My Story (1st ed.). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-1577193562.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1999). The Food Mover Cookbook (Spiral-bound ed.). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ASIN B000EM0LFI. ISBN 978-1577197591.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (2000). Cookin' on Broadway (Spiral-bound ed.). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ASIN B001TNS414.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (2006). Steam Away the Pounds. Rocklin, California: Pascoe Publishing, Inc. ISBN 978-1929862610.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1991). Project Me (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: Deal-a-meal, Inc. ASIN B000GE9Y5W.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1991). Take a Walk (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: Deal-a-meal, Inc. ASIN B000KMHGCI.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1991). Take a Hike (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: Deal-a-meal, Inc. ASIN B000YQLSN8.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1994). Sweatin' and Sharin' With Richard Simmons & Friends (Compact Cassette). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ASIN B000GYZC8K.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1995). Walk Across America (Compact Cassette). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ASIN B000P527CE.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1998). Colors of Your Life (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: The Richard Simmons Living Trust. ASIN B000F3R72G.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1998). Colors of Your Life (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: The Richard Simmons Living Trust. ASIN B0009WPKQ8.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1998). Secrets of the Winners (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: The Richard Simmons Living Trust. ASIN B0002JL96I.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (1993). Never Give Up: Inspirations, Reflections, Stories of Hope (Compact Cassette) (Abridged ed.). Southfield, Michigan: Audio Renaissance. ISBN 978-1559272193.
- ^ Simmons, Richard (January 3, 2006). Oh Happy Day. Somerset Entertainment (Audio CD). Austin, Texas: Mood Media. ASIN B000DGY0C0. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- ^ Wicked Workout. Somerset Entertainment (Audio CD). Austin, Texas: Mood Media. January 3, 2006. ASIN B000DGY0CK. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- ^ Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes. Warner Home Video (DVD). Burbank, California: Warner Bros. December 14, 2004. ASIN B0004Z32ME. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- ^ Disco Sweat. Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment (DVD). Universal City, California: Gaiam. April 9, 2002. ASIN B0000541WK. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- ^ Sweatin' to the Oldies. Time Life Entertainment (DVD). New York City: Time Life. March 14, 2008. ASIN B001U2QEP2. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- ^ Sweatin' to the Oldies 2. Time Life Entertainment (DVD). New York City: Time Life. June 3, 2008. ASIN B0017HEYGG. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- ^ Sweatin' to the Oldies 3. Time Life Entertainment (DVD). New York City: Time Life. January 1, 2007. ASIN B003RLNW3G. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- ^ Sweatin' to the Oldies 4. Time Life Entertainment (DVD). New York City: Time Life. April 9, 2013. ASIN B000Z8H1ZE. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- ^ Sweatin' to the Oldies 5. Time Life Entertainment (DVD). New York City: Time Life. December 14, 2010. ASIN B003KIAWOS. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- ^ Reach for Fitness - A Special Video of Exercises for the Physically Challenged. Gt Media, Inc. (VHS). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. November 15, 1994. ASIN B00000680E. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- ^ Sweatin' to the Oldies 3. GoodTimes Home Video (VHS). New York City: GoodTimes Entertainment. December 11, 2001. ASIN B00005T33C. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
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