Last week on the Missing Richard Simmons podcast, creator (and acquaintance of Simmons) Dan Taberski teased the very last episode by saying that there would be one final attempt to see the fitness guru and ascertain his safety and sanity. It would involve, he said, a visit to the man's now-gated home, a boom box and a can-do attitude.
But this week Taberski released his podcast two days earlier than expected — and with a more subdued and uncertain tone than in weeks past. What began as a high-energy (and highly speculative) look at Simmons' life and the mystery behind his disappearance from the spotlight ended as a more thoughtful, reflective and almost apologetic show, and one with a pretty simple conclusion: Simmons is probably perfectly fine. He's just retired.
The change in tone comes after the podcast, which became an instant hit six weeks ago, started receiving criticism from places like The New York Times and The Week — opinion pieces that reprimanded Taberski for prying into the privacy of someone who so obviously does not want to be bothered. It also comes after the podcast uncovered more and more truth about the situation, all of which pointed to the simple explanation that Simmons, at 68 and after a knee surgery, just decided not to keep up his extremely candid and busy celebrity lifestyle.
Let's take a look at the most interesting things we learned this episode.
In an early segment of the podcast, Taberski talks with Detective Becker of the Los Angeles Police Department who recently conducted yet another wellness check on Simmons at his home in Hollywood, this time at least partially in response to the podcast. Becker reported that he was at the home for 90 minutes and that the weight-loss star was perfectly lucid, fit and cooperative (and that he had shaven his beard). Becker also said that Simmons' housekeeper Teresa Reveles was separated from Simmons for her interview and that she was not a threat.
So in the end, Missing Richard Simmons became an indictment of celebrity culture. Everyone thinks you owe them a piece of you.— Still Wamgry (@clarissawam) March 21, 2017
I'm surprised that Ep6 of Missing Richard Simmons isn't called "Frantic Backpedalling". Very glad it's over.— Neil Studd (@neilstudd) March 21, 2017
In another segment, Taberski seems to get almost defensive about his podcast: Why is he bothering Simmons? What is the whole point of this? As Taberski asks himself, "If [Simmons] is fine, what does that make me?"
The creator explains that he saw the podcast as a "grand gesture" to Simmons, who he thought had been his friend, and who had inspired him and so many others for years. But he goes on to say, "This gesture should be telling Richard Simmons to love himself. But it's not my place to tell him that [being isolated is] not the way to live."
He then explained that he thought that maybe, if Simmons was in a deep depression, the podcast might have been able to help him realize he needed help: "You can fall into a hole of loneliness and solitude and you can't count on yourself to know what's right," he said.
All I want to do today is be a recluse like Richard Simmons while listening to #missingrichardsimmons podcast— Aimée Castle (@aimeecastle) March 10, 2017
So what did Missing Richard Simmons accomplish besides harassing an elderly man for months?— Adam Ellis (@moby_dickhead) March 21, 2017
In what might have been the show's most interesting and informative segment, Simmons' longtime manager Michael Catalano finally opened up to Taberski in order to quell rumors and answer questions. Catalano revealed that he had just visited with Simmons the day before and that the two had just hung out and chatted.
Catalano implied that perhaps Simmons just wanted to retire, but that an official goodbye would have been too much for him to bear. "He's a very emotional, empathetic, sympathetic person," he said, "and goodbyes are tough." He also said, "This is his story. He has the right to write the ending."
Catalano also said that it's possible that because of Richard Simmons' warm personality (and perhaps the character he created over the past four decades) many of the people who are worried about him don't really understand that they aren't part of Simmons' inner circle of intimate friends and family.
Taberski said that several sources, including Detective Becker, had confirmed that Teresa Reveles does not seem to have physical or psychological control over Simmons and that in fact, she is probably pretty good at her job, not only serving as Simmons' housekeeper, but also his companion. And nope, she's most probably not an evil witch. Surprise!
So, what's the final verdict? Taberski believes that something big did happen in 2014 that led to Simmons suddenly disappearing from the public eye — whether it was the death of his beloved dog or his knee surgery or something else, we may never know. But now Taberski also believes that Simmons got through his depression and simply decided not to return to work. He quietly retired.
Taberski said, "I am sad not to hear from him, really I am. But there are sadder outcomes, so this one is pretty good."
He went on, "He just doesn't want to be that guy anymore. He was Richard Simmons and he was amazing."
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