What We Learned About ‘What Really Happened to Richard Simmons’ on Fox

What We Learned About ‘What Really Happened to Richard Simmons’ on Fox

Published August 24, 2022
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Fitness legend Richard Simmons hasn’t been seen in public since February 2014. His notable absence has become the subject of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast, and now the TMZ documentary What Really Happened to Richard Simmons, which premiered August 22 on Fox. Fellow fitness star Suzanne Somers, writer Bruce Vilanch, Dr. Phil, and more were interviewed for the 45-minute documentary, which claims to have found the truth about Simmons’ whereabouts.

The majority of the documentary analyzes Simmons’ past interviews, combing through footage from the peak of his fame — conventions, TV appearances, fan interactions in public, the works. Much of what the documentary broke down was information Simmons publicly shared. The doc uses these clips to establish the distinguishable difference between his public persona and private life. Simmons’ interviews detailed the bullying he suffered in his childhood, his relationship with food (including disordered eating that led to him losing 137 pounds, but he nearly died in the process), and the emotional responsibility he felt to his supporters.

The pressure of being an uplifting figure for so many people in public made him become a recluse in private. His public life was incredibly draining, given his brand of positivity and high energy. And having struggled with feelings about his body image his whole life, his insecurities — paired with his position as a public figure motivating people to lose weight — made him feel personally responsible for his fans’ feelings. When they didn’t “succeed” (by their own and Simmons’ definitions), he felt like a failure.

“If you put yourself out there as something perfect, you’ll never succeed for a continued time, because you’ll keep revealing what’s not operating at optimum on you or in you,” she said. “I think it was in his head; I think it was emotional, that he wasn’t enough.”