Buzzy new podcast investigates disappearance of fitness guru from public life.
This is a question that probably hasn’t crossed your mind lately: Whatever happened to Richard Simmons? But you’ll become obsessed with the question once you start listening to the buzzy and addicting podcast “Missing Richard Simmons” that’s being compared to “Serial.”
Fitness guru Simmons suddenly withdrew from public life in 2014. A man known for regularly greeting busloads of tourists passing by his home, teaching for 40 years at his Slimmons Studio in Beverly Hills and coaching ordinary people through weight loss, has seemingly withdrawn from public life. He doesn’t return calls from friends, he stopped teaching his exercise class, and he doesn’t answer the door to his house. His friends haven’t seen him publicly or talked to him in years. The disappearing act has raised concerns. Did Simmons, 68, decide he’s had enough of the limelight or is it something more sinister? (TMZ reported that police visited Simmons’ home in 2015 after receiving an elder abuse complaint. The officers said he was fine.)
Producer and documentarian Dan Taberski, who became friendly with Simmons through Simmons’ health club, is on a mission to find out. In the podcast, Taberski fleshes out Simmons from his loud, overenthusiastic persona to a real human being. We learn the man behind “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” was battling knee injury issues and was prone to crying fits during his exercise classes. We learn Simmons was generous with his time and money to strangers and the people he loved. It wasn’t unusual for him to become a personal weight-loss coach to fans.
Taberski tracks down people who knew Simmons best to get their theories about what happened to him. The podcast brings up some moral quandaries: Should the public respect Simmons’ right to be left alone or does concern outweigh his right to privacy? If Simmons is listening to this show, is he horrified or touched by the outpouring of concern? Is Taberski exploiting Simmons’ life for personal gain?
At the end of each episode, listeners are encouraged to call a hotline and share their Simmons’ stories. Taberski has said in interviews that he doesn’t know the ending to the six-episode podcast yet. Will Simmons get in touch with the filmmaker to settle questions once and for all?
We’ll be listening to find out how this investigation unfolds.