A piece of the "Missing Richard Simmons" mystery—obsession, really—came to Orange County recently, although it's a mystery to me (though not an obsession) where exactly in OC it was.
To backtrack, former fitness guru Richard Simmons of Sweatin' to the Oldies and Dolphin shorts fame was last seen in public at the 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This was odd because he'd previously been all over radio and television, particularly the shows of his gentle tormenters Howard Stern and David Letterman.
Somehow during 67-year-old Simmons' time out of the public eye, a rumor surfaced that he was being held against his will by a housekeeper. This led to Simmons apparently contacting media outlets to deny this was true and say, like Greta Garbo, he just wanted to be left alone.
His plea did not stop his friend and filmmaker Dan Taberski from launching the Missing Richard Simmons podcast, which The New York Times called "The next cult audio obsession," The Huffington Post heralded as “The podcast darling of the moment,” and the A.V. Club lauded as “Nothing short of a labor of love.”
According to MissingRichardSimmons.com (where you can listen to the podcasts):
On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him—and no one knows why he left. Filmmaker Dan Taberski was a Slimmons regular and a friend of Richard’s. Missing Richard Simmons is Dan’s search for Richard—and the deeper he digs, the stranger it gets. Do you have leads, theories, or Richard stories? We want to hear them. (And we might use them on the show!) Leave Dan a voicemail at 402-93-SWEAT (402-937-9328).
Here is a New York Fox 5 report on the Missing Richard Simmons phenomenon:
Last week, TMZ reported that Simmons may have been spotted ... outside an Orange County 24-Hour Fitness. Visit the link to see the video. The resemblance is striking.
It does not say which of the gazillion 24-Hour Fitness locations the footage comes from, but Zus Gomez, commenting on the TMZ story via Facebook, apparently knows that gym.
"That's definitely not him," Gomez writes. "I see this guy every time I go to 24-Hour Fitness. He's a Hispanic guy, I believe. He does remind me of Richard Simmons every time I see him, though. But definitely not him ????."
Whoa, then why the question marks, boo?
Aimee Camberos Quiñones,, in an alert to Jasmin Camberos, apparently knows that locale as well.
"This is the guy from the gym!!! That does Zumba and yoga. Has it been Richard Simmons all along?"
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Other commenters believe the fellow in the video is a different celebrity, with most mentions going to, in order of most volume: Pauly Shore, Gene Simmons, Rosie O’Donnell, Glenn Danzig, Russell Crowe, Pamela Anderson and Bruce Jenner, which would also be news since it would mean Bruce is no longer Caitlyn.
However, far more commenters typed this about Simmons: “Leave him alone!” And many, including TMZ, note the OC gym is an hour's drive from Simmons' Hollywood Hills home. Imagine how many 24-Hour Fitness locations he would have passed on the way to this one.
Then again, if you wanted to get far enough way not to be bothered. ... And lemme end by tossing out this: For seven Richard Simmons' videos, Ken Alan was the program designer and choreographer. The former IDEA Instructor of the Year award recipient now specializes in fitness programs for older adults. So where does Alan currently lecture in the Department of Kinesiology? At Cal State Fullerton!
The plot, like our waistlines without Simmons' oldies to sweat to, thickens!