Richard Simmons

Last updated

Richard Simmons
Simmons in 2011
Milton Teagle Simmons

(1948-07-12) July 12, 1948 (age 70)
Residence Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Other namesMilton Teagle Simmons
Milton Simmons
Richard Teagle Simmons
OccupationFitness instructor
Years active1968–2014
Height5 ft 6.5 in (1.69 m)

Milton Teagle "Richard" Simmons (born July 12, 1948) is an American fitness instructor, actor, and video producer. [1] He promotes weight-loss programs, most prominently through his Sweatin' to the Oldies line of aerobics videos, and is known for his eccentric, flamboyant, and energetic personality.

Aerobics form of physical exercise that combines rhythmic aerobic exercise with stretching and strength training routines

Aerobics is a form of physical exercise that combines rhythmic aerobic exercise with stretching and strength training routines with the goal of improving all elements of fitness. It is usually performed to music and may be practiced in a group setting led by an instructor, although it can be done solo and without musical accompaniment. With the goal of preventing illness and promoting physical fitness, practitioners perform various routines comprising a number of different dance-like exercises. Formal aerobics classes are divided into different levels of intensity and complexity. A well-balanced aerobics class will have five components: warm-up, cardio vascular conditioning, muscular strength and conditioning, cool-down and stretching and flexibility. Aerobics classes may allow participants to select their level of participation according to their fitness level. Many gyms offer a variety of aerobic classes. Each class is designed for a certain level of experience and taught by a certified instructor with a specialty area related to their particular class.


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 .

Beverly Hills, California City in California

Beverly Hills is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Located within 5.7 square miles and surrounded by the cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood, the City has an estimated population of 35,000.

A talk show or chat show is a television programming or radio programming genre in which one person discusses various topics put forth by a talk show host.

<i>Late Show with David Letterman</i> American talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS (1993-2015)

Late Show with David Letterman is an American late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS, the first iteration of the Late Show franchise. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and was produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, and CBS Television Studios. The show's music director and leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, was Paul Shaffer. The head writer was Matt Roberts and the announcer was originally Bill Wendell, then Alan Kalter. Of the major U.S. late-night programs, Late Show ranked second in cumulative average viewers over time and third in number of episodes over time. In most U.S. markets the show aired from 11:35 p.m. to 12:37 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, and recorded Monday through Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m., and Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The second Thursday episode usually aired on Friday of that week.

Simmons has continued to promote health and exercise through a decades-long career, and later broadened his activities to include political activism – such as 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". [2] [3]

No Child Left Behind Act former United States Law

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was a U.S. Act of Congress that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; it included Title I provisions applying to disadvantaged students. It supported standards-based education reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals could improve individual outcomes in education. The Act required states to develop assessments in basic skills. To receive federal school funding, states had to give these assessments to all students at select grade levels.

By March 2016, after his not having made any major public appearances since February 2014, speculation and expressions of concern about his well-being began to surface in the media. [4] [5] Simmons, his publicist, and others who had been in contact with him (including the LAPD) [6] have said that the concerns were unwarranted and that he is simply choosing to be less publicly visible. [7]

Los Angeles Police Department municipal police department in California

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), officially the City of Los Angeles Police Department, is the police department of Los Angeles, California. With 9,988 officers and 2,869 civilian staff, it is the third-largest municipal police department in the United States, after the Chicago Police Department and the New York City Police Department. The department operates in an area of 498 square miles (1,290 km2) and a population of 4,030,904 people.

Early life

Milton Teagle Simmons was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 12, 1948, [1] to 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. [8] 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. [9]

Show business vernacular term for all aspects of entertainment

Show business, sometimes shortened to show biz or showbiz, is a vernacular term for all aspects of the entertainment industry. From the business side, the term applies to the creative element and was in common usage throughout the 20th century, although the first known use in print dates from 1850. At that time and for several decades, it typically included an initial the. By the latter part of the century, it had acquired a slightly arcane quality associated with the era of variety, but the term is still in active use. In modern entertainment industry, it is also associated with the great fashion industry and acquiring intellectual property rights from the invested research in the entertainment business.

French Quarter New Orleans neighborhood in Louisiana, United States

The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré or Vieux Carré Historic District, is the oldest section of the City of New Orleans. Founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, New Orleans developed around the Vieux Carré, the city's central square. Today, the district is commonly known as the French Quarter, or simply "the Quarter," a reflection of the diminished French influence after the Louisiana Purchase.

Simmons later converted to Catholicism and attended Cor Jesu High School, known today as Brother Martin High School. [10] [11] [12] He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette before graduating from Florida State University with a BA in Art. [13]

Brother Martin High School

Brother Martin High School is an all-male, Catholic, college preparatory school located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. It was established in 1869 by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, establishing the school as St. Aloysius College. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette university

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is a public research university in Lafayette, Louisiana. It has the largest enrollment within the nine-campus University of Louisiana System and has the second largest enrollment in Louisiana. As a nod to the Acadian French heritage of many of its students, the school sometimes uses the alternate name l'Université des Acadiens.

Florida State University university in the United States

Florida State University is a public space-grant and sea-grant research university in Tallahassee, Florida. It is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1851, it is located on the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state of Florida.

He became obese during his early childhood and adolescence. [14] 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. [14] At the age of 15, he weighed 182 pounds (83 kg). As a young man, he considered being a priest. [15] [16] 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). [17] [14] [18]

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times , Simmons explained he adopted the name Richard after an uncle who paid for his college tuition. [16] His first job in New Orleans was as a child, selling pralines at Leah's Pralines. [15]


Fitness career

Upon moving to Los Angeles in the 1970s, he worked as the Maître d'hotel at Derek's, a restaurant in Beverly Hills. [9] :157 He developed an interest in fitness. Exercise studios of the day favored the already fit customer, so there was little help for those who needed to gain fitness from an otherwise unhealthy state. He established gyms, and 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. [19] Later renamed "Slimmons", the establishment continued operations in Beverly Hills, and Simmons taught motivational classes and aerobics throughout the week. [20] Slimmons closed in November 2016. [21]

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 million pounds (5.5 million kg). [22] Simmons used the web as a method of outreach by running his own membership-based website, and also has official pages on numerous social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube. [23]

In media

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 had guest roles on the celebrity game shows Battlestars , Body Language , Super Password , Win, Lose or Draw , Match Game (ABC), Price Is Right and Hollywood Squares (syndicated), and Nickelodeon's Figure It Out .[ citation needed ]

Positive viewer reactions landed Simmons a recurring role as himself in General Hospital over a 4-year period. [1] [24] This, as well as being in shopping malls, where he taught exercise classes, led to further media attention. In the early 1980s, Simmons hosted two shows Slim Cookin and the 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.[ citation needed ]

In 1998 Simmons voiced the "Boone" character 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. In 2007 he filmed a pledge drive special for PBS titled Love Yourself and Win.

He has been featured in television advertisements for Sprint, Yoplait, and Herbal Essence Shampoos. In late 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.[ citation needed ] Beyond this, there is no further business partnership between the two.

In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "No Pain, No Gain", Simmons lent his voice to an exercise trainer bearing his animated likeness, leading a class filled with large anthropomorphic animals.

From 2006 to 2008 he hosted a radio show on Sirius Stars (Sirius Satellite Radio channel 102) titled Lighten Up with Richard Simmons. [25] [26]

Personal life

Simmons in 2007 Richard Simmons 2007-08-15.jpg
Simmons in 2007


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. [16] [34]

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 . As of 2008, he personally answered emails and letters and made hundreds of phone calls each week to those seeking his help. [35] [ needs update ]

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. [35] While his sexual orientation has been the subject of much speculation, he has never publicly discussed his sexuality. [36] [37] [38] [39] [40]

In a 2012 interview with Men's Health, he had this to say: [41]

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

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).[ citation needed ]

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. [4] [5]

In response, on March 14, Simmons gave an audio interview on the Today Show , denying the rumors. [7] In November, the Simmons fitness gym closed, without any public announcement from Simmons. [21] In February 2017, the podcast Missing Richard Simmons launched, investigating why Simmons left public life so suddenly. [42]

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." [6] 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". [43] 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. [44] [45] [46]

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. [47] 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." [48]

In June 2018, Simmons sued a Los Angeles private investigator, claiming that he had placed a tracking device over a year earlier on the only vehicle Simmons used for transportation, noting that such tracking is in violation of California law. [49] In July 2018, Simmons amended the lawsuit, alleging that the investigator was hired by In Touch Weekly , and prosecutors filed a criminal complaint citing a specific section of the state's penal code. [50]

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  40. 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.
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  56. Simmons, Richard (1993). Richard Simmons' Never Give Up: Inspirations, Reflections, Stories of Hope (1st ed.). New York City: Warner Books. ISBN   978-0446517034.
  57. Simmons, Richard (1996). Farewell to Fat (1st ed.). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ISBN   978-1577191025.
  58. Simmons, Richard (1997). Sweetie Pie: The Richard Simmons Private Collection of Dazzling Desserts (1st ed.). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ISBN   978-1577192763.
  59. Simmons, Richard (1999). The Food Mover Cookbook (Spiral-bound ed.). New York City: GT Publishing Corporation. ASIN   B000EM0LFI. ISBN   978-1577197591.
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  61. Simmons, Richard (2006). Steam Away the Pounds. Rocklin, California: Pascoe Publishing, Inc. ISBN   978-1929862610.
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  63. Simmons, Richard (1991). Take a Walk (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: Deal-a-meal, Inc. ASIN   B000KMHGCI.
  64. Simmons, Richard (1991). Take a Hike (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: Deal-a-meal, Inc. ASIN   B000YQLSN8.
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  67. Simmons, Richard (1998). Colors of Your Life (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: The Richard Simmons Living Trust. ASIN   B000F3R72G.
  68. Simmons, Richard (1998). Colors of Your Life (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: The Richard Simmons Living Trust. ASIN   B0009WPKQ8.
  69. Simmons, Richard (1998). Secrets of the Winners (Compact Cassette). Beverly Hills, California: The Richard Simmons Living Trust. ASIN   B0002JL96I.
  70. Simmons, Richard (1993). Never Give Up: Inspirations, Reflections, Stories of Hope (Compact Cassette) (Abridged ed.). Southfield, Michigan: Audio Renaissance. ISBN   978-1559272193.
  71. Simmons, Richard (January 3, 2006). Oh Happy Day. Somerset Entertainment (Audio CD). Austin, Texas: Mood Media. ASIN   B000DGY0C0 . Retrieved March 7, 2017.
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  74. Disco Sweat. Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment (DVD). Universal City, California: Gaiam. April 9, 2002. ASIN   B0000541WK . Retrieved March 8, 2017.
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  78. Sweatin' to the Oldies 4. Time Life Entertainment (DVD). New York City: Time Life. April 9, 2013. ASIN   B000Z8H1ZE . Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  79. Sweatin' to the Oldies 5. Time Life Entertainment (DVD). New York City: Time Life. December 14, 2010. ASIN   B003KIAWOS . Retrieved March 8, 2017.
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  81. Sweatin' to the Oldies 3. GoodTimes Home Video (VHS). New York City: GoodTimes Entertainment. December 11, 2001. ASIN   B00005T33C . Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  82. Farewell to Fat. Warner Home Video (VHS). Burbank, California: Warner Bros. December 1, 1998. ASIN   B00000G3CA . Retrieved March 7, 2017.
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