In the 1980s and 1990s, Richard Simmons was highly popular. Simmons was the most well-known exercise proponent in the world, making appearances on talk shows and appearing on the videotapes Sweatin’ to the Oldies until he vanished from public view.
Simmons was the focus of the podcast Missing Richard Simmons in 2017, which incorporated the main idea of Serial into a group exercise class. The podcast detailed director Dan Taberski’s attempts to persuade Simmons to end his ostensibly self-imposed three-year seclusion, but it also left a wealth of Simmons trivia for listeners to explore. Take a look at these 12 facts to learn more about the July 12, 1948-born designer of sequined tank tops.
1. Father Simmons Was Nearly Richard Simmons.
Richard Simmons, who was born in 1948, grew up in a deeply spiritual home in New Orleans’ French Quarter. He enrolled in a Dominican seminary in Iowa after finishing high school and remained there for over two years before departing. He said that the work wasn’t for him because of his 240-pound physique, which had been engorged with food addiction since a young age, and his “loud” demeanour.
Simmons attempted to pursue a career in medicine but found it unsettling to be among “dead bodies [and] blood.” Before he discovered his niche in the fitness sector and opened the Anatomy Asylum exercise facility in 1975, he previously worked briefly as a cosmetics executive and a fashion illustrator.
2. Richard Simmons’ Altered Physique Was the Result of An Anonymous Note.
According to a 1981 article in The New York Times, Simmons discovered a handwritten message taped to his automobile in 1968 while working as a “fat model” in Europe. The newspaper declared, “Fat folks die young.”
“Plz don’t pass away. Anonymous.” The message frightened Simmons, who was 268 pounds at the time, and he developed an eating disorder, surviving for more than two months on water and lettuce. After eventually getting better, he adopted the motto “Love yourself, move your body, and watch your portions.”
3. Richard Simmons Made Two Cameo Appearances in Federico Fellini Films.
In the late 1960s, Simmons was studying art in Florence, Italy, and prior to losing weight, he was savouring the local cuisine. While there, Simmons landed roles in Satyricon and The Clowns, two films directed by famed Italian director Federico Fellini. Simmons previously said he “burned” all other images taken before he lost weight, thus it appears that the clip is the only trace of his old appearance that still exists.
4. Richard Simmons Changed the Workout Tape Craze of The 1980s.
In the 1980s, no video store was complete without a fitness area. Tapes from Jane Fonda and Arnold Schwarzenegger shared shelf space with celebrities like Jake Steinfeld and Tony Little. Nearly all of these films featured models and motivators who were expertly proportioned while guiding viewers through demanding exercise programmes.
Simmons decided to fill his stage with average folks who were still trying to lose weight when he launched his Sweatin’ to the Oldies series in 1988. The Sweatin’ series went on to sell 25 million volumes because readers appreciated that Simmons wasn’t holding them to a fitness magazine standard.
5. Overeaters Have Been Confronted by Richard Simmons.
Early on in his quest to get rid of extra body fat, Simmons acknowledged confronting complete strangers about some of their eating habits. In 1981, he explained to People, “I’ll observe an obese woman having a butterscotch sundae and I’ll sit at her table and say, ‘What is this?'” In 1975, when he ran the hip Ruffage restaurant in Los Angeles, he would also sit down with his patrons and let them know if they needed to lose weight.
6. Alex Trebek Was Once Replaced by Richard Simmons.
With ValueTelevision, a one-hour programme where viewers could place telephone orders for featured products, syndicated TV distributor Lorimar tried to cash in on the home-shopping trend in 1987. Alex Trebek, a Jeopardy! star, co-hosted the programme. Simmons took over for Trebek when Lorimar sacked him due to lower-than-expected ratings. Nothing seemed to work, and in June the programme was cancelled.
7. Richard Simmons Once Made Mall Tours.
Simmons made his first appearance as a fitness teacher on the ABC soap drama General Hospital in 1979. He started performing in-person at malls with the ensemble; Simmons was so moved by how many people he could reach in this way that he kept doing it even after leaving the programme in the early 1980s.
In 1991, he claimed, “I travel over 300 days a year. “I work primarily in shopping centres since everybody may visit one, regardless of their size, socioeconomic status, or vehicle of choice. America’s gathering spots are the malls. I go there as a result.
8. Sarcasm Bothers Richard Simmons.
At Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport in 2004, Simmons was there when a fellow traveller made a disparaging remark about his Sweatin’ to the Oldies collection of tapes. Police claim that when the man saw Simmons, he yelled, “Hey, everybody, it’s Richard Simmons. Let’s unpack and groove to some 1950s music.
Simmons reportedly walked over and slapped the man across the face after becoming annoyed by the heckling. The Bangor Daily News reported that he was charged by police with minor assault. Later, the matter was resolved and dismissed.
9. Richard Simmons Had an Asthma Attack as A Result of David Letterman.
David Letterman frequently played the straight guy to Simmons’ exaggerated antics on his late-night talk shows when Simmons appeared as a guest.
After Letterman playfully splashed him with a fire extinguisher in 2000, causing the asthmatic Simmons to have such difficulty breathing that paramedics were called, Simmons took a sabbatical from the appearances. The incident offended the typically jovial Simmons to the point where he refused to appear on the show for six years.
10. Richard Simmons Dislikes Dining Establishments.
In an interview with the Denver Post in 2008, Simmons claimed that he rarely goes to restaurants because patrons are always craning their necks to see what the diet expert is eating.
When travelling, Simmons generally orders room service to maintain some sort of seclusion. Additionally, he stays away from grocery stores because he worries that customers may approach him and ask him to check the ingredients list to determine if it’s a healthy option.