Fitness guru Richard Simmons assured fans on Monday that despite a weekend report, his public absence of late is not because his housekeeper is controlling him.
“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage,” Simmons, 67, said in a phone call to NBC’s “Today,” adding later that the story — based on former assistant Mauro Oliveira’s claim that Simmons is in thrall of housekeeper Teresa Reveles — is “just very silly. Teresa Reveles has been with me for 30 years. It’s almost like we’re a married couple.”
Simmons — who had been making 250 personal appearances a year until dropping out of public sight in 2014, due to what he said in November was a knee injury — told the morning show, “I just sort of wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a little while. You know, I had hurt my knee, and I had some problems with it, and then the other knee started giving me trouble because I’ve taught like thousands and thousands of classes, and you know right now I just want to sort of take care of me.”
He added, “I just really don’t want to do anything, you know. I just don’t want to be traveling anymore. It certainly has taken its toll on me, so it was not, like, over a day, it was just over some time.”
Simmons’ representative, Tom Estey, told People magazine on Sunday, “As I have stated in the past, these claims are untrue and preposterous,” adding, “Richard, after 40 years of being in the spotlight, is now simply taking a break from the public eye and working behind the scenes to continue to help those millions of people worldwide in need of his assistance and on several projects to be announced soon.”
“I can’t believe I was trending on Facebook!” read a Sunday post on Simmons’ Facebook page. “After some questions about my health and whereabouts, I’ll be calling in to Today Show tomorrow morning. If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, I hope you’ll tune in!”
In January, TMZ.com said at the time, Los Angeles police visited Simmons at his Hollywood Hills home at the behest of a friend fearing elder abuse. Spending more than hour with him, they found him gracious, lucid and in good spirits, with no one else in the house, they told the website.
“You know, I do what I want to do,” Simmons told “Today,” “as I’ve always done, so people should sort of just believe what I have to say because, like, I’m Richard Simmons!”