Richard Simmons Is 68! Here Are 12 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Him

by Nicole Fabian-Weber
Jul 11, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. ET

Richard Simmons may have stepped back from the limelight in recent years for some (well-deserved) privacy, but we will forever love him as the spunky aerobics instructor who had everyone sweatin' to the oldies in the '80s and early '90s.

In honor of his 68th birthday on Wednesday, we're looking back at some of the interesting (and amazing!) things he's done throughout his life.

Here are 12 things you may not have known about Richard Simmons. 

Originally published March 2016. Updated July 2017.

1 /12: He's not gonna let gossip run amok

1/12 :He's not gonna let gossip run amok

Simmons started leading a very private life about three years ago — which of course led to wild speculation about what he could be up to. But Simmons isn't here for that shit.

He's suing the National Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., for libel after they published stories claiming Simmons is transitioning into a woman named Fiona. Simmons also hired a lawyer who is famous for kicking ass and taking names when it comes to libel suits, so obviously he means business.

2 /12: He inspired a podcast

2/12 :He inspired a podcast

Filmmaker (and Simmons' friend) Dan Taberski was so disturbed when Simmons dropped off the map that he started searching for him — and documenting everything along the way.

Missing Richard Simmons is beyond intriguing, but it became pretty controversial as Taberski started obsessively digging into Simmons' personal life. The show gives you that same kind of icky feeling that S-Town did, but you can't stop listening.


3 /12: Richard isn't his real name

3/12 :Richard isn't his real name

Despite the fact that "Richard Simmons" is a household name, Richard isn't the fitness guru's real name. Born Milton Teagle Simmons, he adopted the name Richard in honor of an uncle who paid for his college tuition. How sweet! 

4 /12: He had a stint as a soap opera actor

4/12 :He had a stint as a soap opera actor

Thought Richard Simmons was a one-trick pony? Think again! Simmons had a four-year stint on General Hospital. Look at that luxurious mane of hair!

5 /12: His work schedule was packed

5/12 :His work schedule was packed

Before Simmons left the public eye because of a knee injury, he spent a reported 250 days each year on the road making appearances. Simmons traveled anywhere from nursing homes to women's expos to children's hospitals to spread cheer and get out his message about health and fitness. It makes sense that he'd want to take a break! 

6 /12: He was born missing bones in his feet

6/12 :He was born missing bones in his feet

It isn't something he talks about often, but Richard Simmons was born without a full set of bones in his feet. When asked about this by Men's Health in 2012, Simmons said, "Yes, that's true. I was born with a crippled leg. I've worn corrective shoes since I was 3 years old. It's something that I don't talk about. I just deal with it. Thank goodness for ice and hot baths."

7 /12: He started his health club for a touching reason

7/12 :He started his health club for a touching reason

Before Simmons founded his Beverly Hills fitness club, he searched high and low for a place to work out where you didn't have to be in killer shape already. Simmons wanted a place where people of all shapes, sizes, ages and capabilities could come together to try to get in shape. Hence the birth of his wildly successful studio, Slimmons. 

8 /12: Simmons became successful for his parents

8/12 :Simmons became successful for his parents

Simmons' main source of motivation wasn't to lose weight  it was to help his parents, who he claims gave up their dreams of being performers to support his brother and him. When talking to Men's Health, Simmons said, "Everything I did with my life I did so that I could give my parents everything they didn't have because of me. Every day after school, for three hours a day, I would sell pralines on the street corner. I was just 8 years old. I'd bring the money home to my parents and say, 'This is just the beginning.'"

9 /12: He was crushed after the death of his dog

9/12 :He was crushed after the death of his dog

It's been reported that part of the reason Simmons turned somewhat reclusive was because he was beside himself after his 17-year-old Dalmatian, Hattie, passed away. Simmons had several Dalmatians, and Hattie was the last to survive. A source told TMZ that "Richard had a deep bond with the dog, who was 17 when she died... and it destroyed him."

10 /12: He walked out of a Howard Stern interview

10/12 :He walked out of a Howard Stern interview

After being insulted one too many times by Howard Stern during interviews over the years, Simmons had it one day and walked out of an interview, crying, after Stern called him "womanly." (Classy, Stern.) Stern tried to console him and tell him he was only joking, but Simmons wouldn't have it. 

11 /12: There are foods he won't keep in his house

11/12 :There are foods he won't keep in his house

A few years ago, Simmons revealed to Men's Health that there are still foods he won't keep in his house because he finds them too tempting. Among them? Peanut butter, potato chips and mini candy bars. 

12 /12: He studied art in Italy

12/12 :He studied art in Italy

While Simmons was a student at University of Florida, he spent time as an exchange student in Florence, Italy. In fact, he enjoyed art so much that he graduated with a BA in Art before moving to New York to work in advertising.