This is alarming news!
Richard Simmons has been absent from the public for two years and now his friends and loved ones are concerned that the workout guru is being held captive against his will in his Hollywood Hills home, reports the New York Daily News. However, a rep for the fitness king has come forward to deny the claims.
The Daily News reported on March 11 that a friend had spoken to the publication saying, "We were very close. It's not something that I want to seek publicity about, but we are very concerned. Teresa [Reveles, Simmons' longtime housekeeper] did turn me away several times." The friend continued, "He has missed funerals of close friends. He was the most reliable and caring person on the planet, and then to suddenly vanish? I have come to believe that something else is happening. I don't think Richard is in there of his own volition."
Hours after the report hit, Simmons' rep Tom Estey issued a statement to People refuting the claims that he was being held against his well. The rep said, "As I have stated in the past, these claims are untrue and preposterous. 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."
Before the statement was issued, another close friend and his former assistant, Mauro Oliveira, told the Daily News that he last spoke to the 67-year-old in April 2014, and that Simmons said he could no longer be in touch.
Simmons reportedly said to Oliveira at the time, "i just want to be by myself, and I want to be in the house, and we're never going to see each other again."
Oliviera says he then asked Simmons whether Reveles was controlling his life and Simmons responded with, "Yes."
Oliviera told the publication, "I feel that Richard is now being controlled by the very people that he controlled his whole life. The worried friend added, "Controlled in the sense that they are taking advantage of his weak mental state. Controlled in the sense that they are controlling his mail, controlling his everything. His brother, the manager and Teresa. Those three people."
Simmons has been out of the public eye for the past few years. The last time that the lively workout star sat down for an interview was a 2013 New Year's Eve interview with CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin.
In November 2013, Simmons rode on a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In January 2014, he attended a Los Angeles fundraiser for Covered California.
In January 2015, TMZ reported that the LAPD went to Simmons' home after receiving tips that something was wrong at the Hollywood Hills mansion, but reportedly found him alert and responsive.
Whatever is going on, we hope that Simmons is well.