21 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Richard Simmons

The Missing Richard Simmons podcast has become quite popular in recent weeks but has left us with much more to learn about the life and adventures of the world famous fitness guru. Here are 21 facts you probably didnt know about Richard Simmons.


1. He doesn't like sarcasm.

In 2004, Simmons was at Phoenixs Airport when a fellow passenger made a sarcastic remark about his Sweatin to the Oldies series of tapes. According to police, the man spotted Simmons and shouted, Hey, everybody, its Richard Simmons. Lets drop our bags and rock to the 50s. The heckling was unappreciated by Simmons, who nearly lost his composure. The police arrived at the scene, but the case was later settled and dropped.

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2. He studied in Europe.

When he was younger, Richard studied in Florence, Italy and spent time in Palermo, Sicily, as a fashion illustrator.

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3. He stopped working as a fashion illustrator because he felt there was something missing.

He said, I was alone in the room with a dress, and it wasnt for me I needed to be around people!

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4. At his heaviest, Richard Simmons weighed 268 pounds.

While in Italy, an anonymous person left a note on Richards car that read, Fat people die. Please dont die, Richard.

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5. This realization motivated Richard to move to California.

After moving to California he became anorexic, lost 137 pounds far too quickly and landing in the hospital. Richard said of this time in his life: My hair fell out and I almost died.

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6. Richard has been dealing with eating disorders since he was a child and is very open about his experience.

He told Wendy Williams in 2011, I have eating disorders, I cant lie about that. Ive always talked about that. I took diet pills, I threw up, I starved, I thought that people would like me better if I were thin since I was a kid.

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7. Richard spoke about his childhood obesity with Katie Couric in 2013.

He said, There was five stores from my house to the Catholic school and I stopped in all five of them. And I ate, and I didnt want anyone to know that I ate, so I would take the wrappers and hide them in Kotex boxes. You think its funny, but you dont want your parents to know.

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8. His first job in LA was at Derrick's.

Simmons first job in Los Angeles was that of a matre d at a restaurant called Derricks, where he said he made fettuccine Alfredo and Caesar salads.

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9. Los Angeles is where he found the gym for the first time.

His first workout was with an ex-policeman who promised him a new body. It didnt work out that way: I was in bed for four days, because I overdid it. So I decided then, I need to open a gym for people like me. A place for the overweight and out of shape. And Im just going to act silly and dance and get them sweating. I saved my tip money from waiting tables, and it took me a year and two months to save $25,000.

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10. Simmons said his nonjudgmental approach to weight loss appeals to his fans.

They know Im a compulsive eater and I would arm-wrestle Mother Teresa for an ice cream bar.

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11. Hes kinda successful.

Richard is said to have sold over 20 million dollars of his extremely popular Sweatin To the Oldies workout tapes in the 80s.

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12. Richard and the Silver Foxes.

Back in the 80s, Simmons rounded up the parents of famous people Al Pacinos father, Farrah Fawcetts mother, Sylvester Stallones mother, Dustin Hoffmans father, and his own mother and recorded the first-ever exercise program for people aged 55 and older called Richard and the Silver Foxes.

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13. Richard as Richard Simmons

Richard has played himself on TV many times, including stints on Arrested Development, The Larry Sanders Show, Johnny Bravo, All My Children, Saturday Night Live, Dinosaurs, and CHiPs.

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14. He was always fairly private and reserved about his social life.

In 1981 he said, I dont go to discos, bars or parties. Whats more important, a one-to-one kid-and-family situation or helping 60 million people get their act together?

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15. Richard was a lover of Dalmatians and had many of them over the years.

Before his last dalmatian Hattie died in 2013, he would call home to sing a song to his dogs each night when he was traveling.

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16. He once replaced Alex Trebek.

In 1987, TV distributor Lorimar attempted to capitalize on the home-shopping craze with a 1-hour show called ValueTelevision, where viewers could call in and place orders via the telephone for featured products. The series was co-hosted by Jeopardy! star Alex Trebek. When the ratings did not perform, they fired Trebek and replaced him with Richard Simmons. The show was later cancelled.

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17. Richard once stopped at Tiffanys and bought a diamond ring for Barbra Streisand.

Despite having never met her, he told David Letterman it was because shes inspired me for 30 years. Barbra returned the ring.

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18. The fire extinguisher incident...

Richard was known for being an entertaining and over-the-top talk show guest, but in November 2000 it went too far when David Letterman hosed him down with a fire extinguisher and gave Simmons an asthma attack. He described the incident in 2002 like so: Last time I was on and [Letterman] sprayed me with that stuff out of the fire extinguisher, I had an asthma attack, and they had to call the paramedic. I have severe asthma, and I panicked.


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19. Im just that kind of guy

In 2012, he opened up in Mens Health about the emotional toll working with so many people can take: After I talk to so many people who are so unhappy about their weight and so depressed that they dont see any rainbows in their life, after I talk to about 30 of those, then I try to walk away and pet my dog, just do something that makes me happy. But Ill tell you, its hard. I take it all very personally. Im just that kind of guy.

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20. He loved to travel to shopping malls.

Simmons appeared on the ABC soap opera General Hospital as a fitness instructor. With the cast, he began making personal appearances at shopping malls. He was so impressed by the number of people he could reach this way that he continued even after leaving the show in the early 1980s. On the topic, Simmons said I do mostly shopping malls, because everyone will come to a shopping mall, no matter what they weigh, no matter their economic structure, no matter what they drive. The malls are the meeting places of America. And so that's where I go."

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21. He foreshadowed his own exit from the spotlight.

As his fame and success grew, Simmons became a fixture on television and in print. Speaking to People for a profile in November 1981, the fitness expert said he received 25,000 to 30,000 letters every day and tried to meet as many people who requested his help as possible. The day I dont love any of this, he said, Ill walk away.

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When you're a kid most adults will tell you one thing or another is "cool" and "fun." Odds are you're too young to form any kind of opinion on the matter one way or another. You're a kid, right? You don't know what you're eating for breakfast. However, when you get older and form that larger worldview, you realize that yeah, maybe that one time when you were a kid actually wasn't fun.

These are those stories.

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