Richard Simmons Being Held Hostage By His Housekeeper, Ex Employee Claims
Update, 3/9: As TMZ reports, two LAPD officers performed a welfare check at Simmons' home — their second in two years — and found the Slimmons Studio owner to be, TMZ's sources claim, "sound mind and perfectly fine." There is still no explanation for why friends have not seen or heard from him since February 2014. Simmons' sole living relative, his brother Lenny does not know either, Missing Richard Simmons podcast host Dan Taberski, "He's not angry with anybody. I don't understand it."
Exercise and healthy eating guru Richard Simmons' whereabouts have long been the focus of concern for friends seeking answers in the matter, and this week Simmons' former assistant and masseuse has restated alarming (and unproven) claims that Simmons is being held hostage by his housekeeper.
The allegations came in the third and latest episode of a podcast titled Missing Richard Simmons, in which filmmaker and Simmons' onetime friend Dan Taberski attempts to trace how the onetime Sweatin' to the Oldies host is currently spending his days in seclusion: As PEOPLE reports, as of March 6, Richard Simmons has not been seen in 1,098 days and counting. As of February 15, 2014, Taberski's podcast summary says "[Simmons] stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye," and "nobody has heard from him — and no one knows why he left."
Mauro Oliveira, Simmons' former assistant and self-proclaimed close friend who worked for the fitness star for about a year and traveled with him extensively, reiterated his ongoing claim that Simmons' housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, holds Simmons hostage.
Oliveira provides an account of the last time he says he saw Simmons, in May 2014 shortly after he'd stopped appearing in public.
"It was 6 p.m., and I went into his house. He was sitting in the living room, and he was very weakly, physically and mentally. He was trembling. He said, 'Mauro. I called you here because we cannot see each other anymore. I’m just going to stay here,'" Oliveira tells Taberski. "I thought of the worst. I thought the worst was going to happen. I thought he was suicidal."
But after he tried to take Simmons upstairs to talk, Oliveira claimed an interaction with housekeeper Reveles set his alarm bells off.
"She realized that I was in the house, she started screaming like a witch, 'No no no no, get out, get out! I don’t want him here!' Richard looked at me and said, 'You got to go.' I said, 'Really? Is she controlling your life now?' and he said yes. And that I have to leave."
Several of Simmons' former friends have also told Taberski that Reveles has prevented them from seeing him. While Taberski himself has observed on the podcast that Reveles plays a much larger role in Simmons' live than the average housekeeper, Simmons and his team insist he is doing fine. In March 2016 amid emerging concern for Simmons, his rep Tom Estey told People that he is "simply taking a break from the public eye" and dismissed claims like Oliveira's as "untrue and preposterous." Simmons himself called into TODAY days later to insist the same.
Calling the allegations against Reveles, who Simmons says he's employed for 30 years, "very silly," Simmons said told Savannah Guthrie that he was a "loaner" and had hurt both his knees.
"I just really don’t want to do anything. I just don’t want to be traveling anymore. It certainly has taken its toll on me," Simmons told TODAY. He said he does "take walks" and "take drives."
Simmons' last public appearances registered via photos in Getty Images were back in 2013, at an appearance in Macy's 87th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade and a December 2013 concert in Los Angeles most recently. He virtually disappeared two months later.
Whether or not Taberski and Oliveira's concerns over Simmons are indeed overblown and Simmons has chosen to take leave from public life, there have certainly been past cases of celebrities being controlled by those in their inner circle. In the early 1980s, psychotherapist Eugene Landy's license was revoked by the state of California after multiple reports found he'd effectively held Beach Boy Brian Wilson captive in his home with a variety of diagnoses and drug treatments now thought to be unnecessary — and made himself Wilson's co-producer, business manager and partner in several ventures. A version of these events was portrayed in the 2014 film Love & Mercy.
Listen to Missing Richard Simmons Episode 3 below.
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