For decades, Richard Simmons was one of the most ubiquitous personalities in pop culture. His high-energy, always-smiling persona and tiny shorts were visible in everything from TV commercials to late night talk shows to Thanksgiving morning parades.

Then, without any sort of announcement or fanfare, he vanished.

Now, disturbing reports are emerging that speculate on why the onetime fitness guru has been absent from the public eye. Echoing the recent, tragic tale of Casey Kasem, the New York Daily News thinks the 67-year-old Simmons may have spent the last two years being held against his will.

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Titled “The Haunted Twilight of Richard Simmons,” the “Hollywood Mysteries” piece paints a horrifying tale for fans of the iconic entertainer who once sold over 20 million copies of his “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” videotapes. The report quotes Mauro Oliviera, a masseuse and close friend of the star, who hasn’t seen Simmons since 2014.

According to Oliviera, when he last saw Simmons in April 2014 he was told: “I just want to be by myself, and I want to be in the house, and we’re never going to see each other again.”

When he asked his friend whether his longtime housekeeper was now controlling his life, Oliviera says that Simmons replied “yes.” Later that evening, he was threatened with a restraining order.

From there, the piece quotes unnamed sources who also claim to be longtime, worried friends of Richard Simmons.

“We were very close,” says one who hasn’t spoken to Simmons since 2013 and the article describes as “one of five people who described to me the same situation.”

“We are very concerned,” says the source, painting his home as a prison. “He has missed funerals of close friends. He was the most reliable and caring person on the planet, and then to suddenly vanish? I have come to believe that something else is happening. I don’t think Richard is in there of his own volition.”

The article paints three alleged culprits: The housekeeper Teresa Reveles, Simmons’ manager Michael Catalano (who spoke with reporter Andy Martino but wouldn’t let him interview Simmons), and Simmons’ brother Lenny. Painting a picture of a chronically-ill Simmons in a “weak mental state” who is typically “medicated and in bed,” such words are reminiscent of iconic DJ Casey Kasem, whose final years stunned fans with reports of perceived cruelty.

“Richard is enjoying life at home after a 40-year career of traveling the world and inspiring people to take better care of themselves,” his manager insists. “He is working on several projects and continues to encourage those that need his help.”

Longtime friends of the outgoing entertainer, however, insist otherwise — saying he hasn’t returned emails or phone calls in years. “If Richard never comes out of the shadows and says he is OK, then no one will ever know the truth,” says one anonymous friend. “His fans will just wake up one day and see the horrible story that he passed away.”

The bizarre allegations go on to include such words as “black magic,” “self-imprisonment” and “torment.” Whatever the truth is, it seems unlikely that such rumors will go away, unless Simmons himself makes a public appearance to set the record straight.

“He has to know his friends and the community are so concerned,” says another anonymous, concerned friend. “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.”

Posted by:Larry Carroll

Writer, Geek, Bon Vivant.