Richard Simmons says he’s just fine, despite growing concern among friends who believe he’s being held hostage by a maid who practices black magic in his Beverly Hills home.
“As I have stated in the past, these claims are untrue and preposterous,” Richard’s representative, Tom Estey, told People. “Richard, after 40 years of being in the spotlight, is now simply taking a break from the public eye and working behind the scenes to continue to help those millions of people worldwide in need of his assistance and on several projects to be announced soon.”
The concern is not new — the LAPD first made a welfare check at the fitness guru’s home last January following his months-long absence from public life and, more interestingly, his Beverly Hills fitness studio where he routinely taught classes and otherwise just hung around.
Simmons issued a public statement in December last year, claiming he was permanently taking a break from the public eye but still working “behind the scenes” on philanthropic causes that are important to him.
His friends refuse to accept that, however.
Several of them who claim they haven’t had contact with Richard in over two years recently spoke with The New York Daily News for an explosive piece published on Saturday that, among other things, works through the theory that Teresa Reveles, Richard’s live-in housekeeper of 30+ years, is holding him hostage.
“I feel that Richard is now being controlled by the very people that he controlled his whole life,” Richard’s former assistant, Mauro Oliveira told the paper. “Controlled in the sense that they are taking advantage of his weak mental state. Controlled in the sense that they are controlling his mail, controlling his everything. His brother, the manager and Teresa. Those three people.”
Oliveira added that he believes Richard may also be suffering from depression relating to a severe knee injury and the death of his beloved 17-year-old dalmatian, Hattie.
“He has to know his friends and the community are so concerned,” an anonymous friend added. “Show business is one thing, but friends are another. If he had any say in the matter, he would reach out to any of us. I’m very suspicious, as it just doesn’t make sense. It’s very bizarre. It’s beyond mysterious. If something is going on, we want to be there for him. We want to support him.”
Responding to allegations made in the Daily News, Richard spoke with ET on Sunday.
“I am not kidnapped,” he told ET executive producer Brad Bessey by phone. “I am just in my house right now.”
He continued: “I love all the people who worry about me. But it was time for me to take some time to be by myself. For the last 40 years I have been traveling, teaching classes, and I had a knee injury, so I had a knee replacement, which was very difficult for me… I have really just been taking it easy, staying at home, working out in my gym and doing the things I haven’t done in a very long time.”
In a separate phone interview with the Today show, he said, “You haven’t seen the last of me!”