Richard Simmons

"Sweatin' to the Oldies" redirects here. For The Vandals album, see Sweatin' to the Oldies: The Vandals Live.
For other people named Richard Simmons, see Richard Simmons (disambiguation).
Richard Simmons

Simmons on September 23, 2011
Born Milton Teagle Simmons
(1948-07-12) July 12, 1948
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Residence Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Milton Teagle Simmons
Milton Simmons
Richard Teagle Simmons
Occupation Fitness guru, actor, comedian
Years active 1978-present
Height 5 ft 6.5 in (1.69 m)

Milton Teagle Simmons (born July 12, 1948),[1] known universally as Richard Simmons, is an American fitness guru, actor, and comedian. He promotes weight-loss programs, prominently through his Sweatin' to the Oldies line of aerobics videos and is known for his eccentric, flamboyant, and energetic personality.

Simmons began his weight-loss career by opening a gym called Slimmons in Beverly Hills, California, catering to the overweight, and he became widely known through exposure on television and through the popularity of his consumer products. He is often parodied and was a frequent guest of late night television talk shows, such as the Late Show with David Letterman.

Simmons continues to promote health and has broadened his activities to include political activism, notably in support of a bill mandating non-competitive physical education in public schools as a part of the "No Child Left Behind Act".[2][3]

Early life

Simmons was born Milton Teagle Simmons in New Orleans, Louisiana on July 12, 1948,[1] the son of Leonard Douglas Simmons, Sr. and Shirley May (née Satin). He was born to show business parents and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He has one older brother named Leonard, Jr.[4] His father was raised Methodist and worked as a master of ceremonies and later in thrift stores. His mother was Russian Jewish and was a traveling fan dancer and later a store cosmetics saleswoman.[5] Simmons later converted to Catholicism and attended Cor Jesu High School, known today as Brother Martin High School.[6][7][8] He suffered from asthma for many years and was obese throughout his adolescence. By the time he graduated from high school, he weighed 268 pounds (122 kg).[9][10] As a young man, he considered being a priest.[11][12]

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Simmons explained he adopted the name Richard after an uncle who paid for his college tuition.[12] His first job in New Orleans was as a child, selling pralines at Leah's.[13] After starting college at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, he transferred to Florida State University. While enrolled there, he studied as an exchange student in Florence, Italy. He graduated with a BA in Art. After graduation, Simmons moved to New York City where he worked in advertising, as a waiter, and for cosmetics companies Revlon and Coty Cosmetics.

Fitness career

Simmons reportedly had an uncredited appearance in Fellini Satyricon, which was released in 1969, when he was obese.[14]

Upon moving to Los Angeles in the 1970s, he worked as a maître d' at Derek's, a restaurant in Beverly Hills.[15] He developed an interest in fitness, but was dissatisfied with the unhealthy fad diet methods and the established gyms and exercise studios of the day which favored the already fit customer. It was his interest in fitness that helped him lose 123 lb (56 kg).

Simmons later opened his own exercise studio, originally called The Anatomy Asylum, where emphasis was placed on healthy eating in proper portions and enjoyable exercise in a supportive atmosphere. He opened the studio with the help and support of his business partner Edwin Colon Jr. The business originally included a salad bar restaurant called Ruffage, the name a pun on the word roughage (dietary fiber), though it was eventually removed as the focus of the Asylum shifted solely to exercise.[16] Now called Slimmons, the establishment continues operations in Beverly Hills, and Simmons taught motivational classes and aerobics throughout the week.[17]

In 2010, Simmons stated that he had kept off his own 100+ pound (45 kg) weight loss for 42 years, had been helping others lose weight for 35 years, and that in the course of his fitness career had helped humanity lose approximately 12,000,000 pounds (5,500,000 kg).[18] Simmons now uses the web as a method of outreach by running his own membership based website, and also indicates on his home page that he has established official pages on numerous social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube.[19]

In media

Simmons began to draw media attention due to the success of his health club that began with him on Real People, where he was shown at work. He introduced customers whom he had helped to lose weight. He later made guest roles on the celebrity game shows Battlestars; Body Language; Super Password; Win, Lose or Draw; the ABC version of Match Game; the syndicated version of Hollywood Squares; and Nickelodeon's Figure It Out.

Positive viewer reactions landed Simmons a recurring role as himself in General Hospital[20] over a 4-year period.[21] This in turn led to further media notoriety, as well as being in shopping malls, where he taught exercise classes. In the early 1980s, Simmons hosted two shows: Slim Cookin and an Emmy Award-winning talk show, The Richard Simmons Show, in which he focused on personal health, fitness, exercise, and healthy cooking. The Richard Simmons Show drew thousands of exercise enthusiasts, including SAG/AFTRA actress Lucrecia Sarita Russo who reportedly transported an entire bus filled with ladies from Pam's Figure Tique, for a lively workout on the show.

Simmons has been featured as himself on numerous television series, including Whose Line Is It Anyway?, CHiPs, Saturday Night Live, The Larry Sanders Show, and on an episode of Arrested Development titled "Bringing Up Buster". In 1999, he hosted a short-lived television series titled DreamMaker. Eight years later, he filmed a pledge drive special for PBS titled Love Yourself and Win.

He has been featured in television advertisements for Sprint, Yoplait, Herbal Essence Shampoos, and toward the end of 2007, he was in a "This is SportsCenter" commercial on ESPN as the show's "conditioning coach".

In Canada, Simmons was in an advertisement for Simmons mattresses. The mattress company hired the exercise celebrity because of the similarity in name, and for his appeal to the company's target audience of women over 35.

On November 22, 2000, they had a falling out after an incident that occurred on that night's show. Simmons (while dressed as a turkey) was sprayed in the face by Letterman with a fire extinguisher after Simmons grabbed Letterman as if to hug or kiss him, causing Simmons to have a severe asthma attack.[24]

Simmons did not attend the Letterman show for 6 years, finally returning on November 29, 2006. During that time, Letterman once again set Simmons up for a prank. While Richard Simmons was demonstrating a steamer branded with his name, Letterman insisted on placing a tray under the steamer which Simmons did not believe belonged there. When Simmons turned the steamer on, something in the tray exploded and caught fire, sending Simmons running for his life. Despite the scare, Simmons took the incident in fairly good nature, even joking that he "felt like Michael Jackson" (referring to a mishap where Jackson's hair was set on fire by a pyrotechnics accident).[25]

Personal life

Richard Simmons in August 2007


Simmons is noted for his energetic and motivational demeanor, an attribute he uses to help encourage people to lose weight. His high energy level is always featured in his workout videos. His trademark attire is candy-striped Dolphin shorts and tank tops decorated with Swarovski crystals.[12][30]

Simmons is known for interacting at a personal level with people using his products. This began by personally answering fan mail he received as a cast member of General Hospital. He still personally answers emails and letters and makes hundreds of phone calls each week to those who seek his help.[31] He also talked to people on the air during his radio show and holds weekly live chats in the "clubhouse" area of his website. His appearances also include a "meet and greet" time so that people can speak to him one on one.

He claims to have few friends, saying, "I don't have a lot to offer to one person. I have a lot to offer to a lot of people." Aside from his three Dalmatians and two maids, Simmons lives alone in Beverly Hills, California.[31] While his sexual orientation has been the subject of much speculation, he has never publicly discussed his sexuality.[32][33][34][35][36]

Hurricane Katrina response

In September 2005, Simmons was on Entertainment Tonight to discuss the effects of Hurricane Katrina on his family in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana and his involvement in aiding those affected by the hurricane. On August 29, 2006, Simmons was on Your World with Neil Cavuto while making a return visit to New Orleans one year after the flooding, a visit he repeated on March 2, 2007, now talking about his recent trip to Washington, D.C. to promote and raise awareness about The Strengthening Physical Education Act of 2007 (H.R. 1224).

Reclusive behavior

Simmons has not made any major public appearances since 2014; in March 2016, speculation began that he is being held hostage by his housekeeper.[37][38] In response, on March 14, 2016, Simmons gave an audio interview on the Today Show denying the rumors.[39]


  • Never Say Diet ISBN 0-517-40284-X
  • Never Say Diet Cookbook
  • The Better Body Book
  • Reach for Fitness: A Special Book of Exercises for the Physically Challenged Warner Books 1986 ISBN 0-446-51302-4
  • Deal-A-Meal Cookbook
  • Richard Simmons' Never Give Up: Inspirations, Reflections, Stories of Hope Warner Books, 1984 ISBN 0-446-60085-7
  • Farewell to Fat Atlantic Books 2002 ISBN 1-57719-102-1
  • Sweetie Pie
  • Still Hungry After All These Years: My Story Gt Pub Corp 1999 ISBN 1-57719-356-3
  • The FoodMover Cookbook
  • Cookin' on Broadway
  • Steam Away the Pounds


Analog compact cassette

  • Project Me (six tape set)
  • Sweatin' and Sharin'
  • Colors of Your Life (single tape)
  • Colors of Your Life (six tape set)
  • Secrets of the Winners (single tape)
  • Take a Walk
  • Take a Hike
  • Take a Classical Walk
  • Walk Across America
  • Walkin' on Broadway
  • Walk Around the World
  • Never Give Up (book on tape, read by Simmons)

Compact disc

  • Richard Picks the Hits, Volume 1
  • Richard Picks the Hits, Volume 2
  • Country Cardio
  • Oh Happy Day
  • Fitness Fiesta
  • Wicked Workout
  • Big Screen Burn
  • Shimmy Into Shape
  • In the Mood to Lose
  • Classical Chillout

Vinyl record

  • Reach (Elektra Records, 1983)


  • This Time (Elektra Records, 45 rpm 1983)

Digital compact cassette

  • Colors of Your Life (single tape) (Goodtimes Entertainment, BASF 90 Min. 1998)

Visual media


  • Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes
  • Disco Sweat
  • 60's Blast Off
  • 80's Blast Off
  • Blast and Tone
  • SuperSweatin': Party Off the Pounds
  • SuperTonin': Totally Tonin
  • SuperTonin': Totally Tonin' with Toning Rings
  • Sit Tight
  • Sweatin' to the Oldies
  • Sweatin' to the Oldies 2
  • Sweatin' to the Oldies 3
  • Sweatin' to the Oldies 4
  • Sweatin' to the Oldies 5
  • Love Yourself and Win
  • Boogie Down the Pounds
  • Tonin' to the Oldies

Video cassette

  • Everyday with Richard Simmons
  • The Stomach Formula
  • Get Started
  • Reach for Fitness
  • Deal Your Way to Health
  • Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes
  • Sweatin' to the Oldies
  • Sweatin' to the Oldies 2
  • Sweatin' to the Oldies 3
  • Sweat and Shout (also sold as Sweatin to the Oldies 4)
  • Day By Day (Volumes 1–12)
  • Pump and Sweat
  • Step and Sweat
  • Tone and Sweat
  • Disco Sweat
  • Stretchin' to the Classics
  • Dance Your Pants Off!
  • Tonin' Uptown
  • Tonin' Downtown
  • Groovin' In The House
  • The Ab Formula
  • No Ifs Ands or Butts
  • Love to Stretch
  • Blast Off
  • Broadway Sweat
  • Tone Up On Broadway
  • Broadway Blast Off
  • Platinum Sweat
  • Sit Tight
  • Latin Blast Off (also marketed as Sudar Mucho)
  • Mega Mix Blast Off
  • Mega Mix 2 Blast Off
  • Disco Blast Off
  • 60's Blast Off
  • 80's Blast Off
  • Blast and Tone


  1. 1 2 "Richard Simmons". IMDb. Retrieved March 7, 2008.
  2. Ibanga, Imaeyen (October 15, 2008). "Richard Simmons Obesity Crusade". Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  3. Claus von Zastrow on (March 27, 2008). ""Kids Aren't Well-Rounded; They're Just...Rounded"". Public School Insights. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  4. Simmons (1999) p.21-32
  5. Still Hungry - After All These Years: My Story (1999 autobiography)
  6. "The Day - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  7. The Denver "Richard Simmons' many secrets". The Denver Post. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  8. Bynum, Chris (October 3, 2008). "New Orleans native Richard Simmons moves 'em at Harrah's". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  9. Klemesrud, Judy (February 15, 1981). "BEHIND THE BESTSELLERS". The New York Times. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  10. Kathy Mackay (November 2, 1981). "The Sultan of Svelte". People. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  11. Chandler, Rick (January 19, 2007). "Church of Richard Simmons: Fitness advocate leads workout at Stateline". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  12. 1 2 3 Breen, Shannon (November 14, 2008). "My conversation with Richard Simmons". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  13. Chandler, Rick (January 19, 2007). "Church of Richard Simmons: Fitness advocate leads workout at Stateline". Tahoe Daily Tribune. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
  14. Mackay, Kathy. "Former Fatty Richard Simmons Is the Grand Duke of Diet and the Clown Prince of Fitness". People Magazine. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  15. Simmons, R. (1999) Still Hungry After All These Years; ISBN 1-57719-356-3, p. 157
  16. Simmons, R. (1999) pp. 177-84.
  17. Romano, Tricia (December 23, 2009). "A Celebrity Sweats: It's Richard!". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  18. "Richard Simmons' Story, Pt. 2". February 15, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  19. Richard Simmons Official Site and Clubhouse: Weight Loss and Fitness Tools and Motivation Archived October 23, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. 1 2 "Richard Simmons". IMDb. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  21. "Richard Simmons Official Site and Clubhouse: Weight Loss and Fitness Tools and Motivation". Archived from the original on September 14, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  22. "Internet Movie Data Base". IMDB. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  23. McShane, Larry (February 7, 2007). "Stars cross paths at Sirius studios". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
  24. McIntee, Michael Z. (December 26, 2006). "Show #1515". CBS Late Show with David Letterman. Archived from the original on May 14, 2007. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
  25. Richard Simmons Steamer: richard simmons exploding steamer hilarious david letterman clip on YouTube
  26. "". CNN. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  27. "Tobacco – Hawker Boat". YouTube. November 13, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  28. "Disney - ABC Press". Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  29. "Mile-high madness with Richard Simmons!". YouTube. 2011-03-27. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  30. Chris Connelly, Steven Baker (February 23, 2009). "The Real Richard Simmons: 'Still Doin' It' at 60". ABC News. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  31. 1 2 Pang, Kevin. "The many secrets of Richard Simmons". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on June 6, 2008. Retrieved June 4, 2008.
  32. Sullivan, Andrew (December 12, 1999). "The Way We Live Now: Counter Culture; Not a Straight Story". New York Times. p. §6 p.4. Retrieved April 5, 2009.
  33. Garelick, Rhonda (September 1995). "Outrageous Dieting: The Camp Performance of Richard Simmons". Postmodern Culture. Johns Hopkins University Press. 6 (1). ISSN 1053-1920.
  34. Kendall, Lori (March 22, 2008). "James Bond, Peter Pan, and A Sticky Night of Love: irony and masculinities in amateur animated videos". The Journal of Men's Studies. 16 (2): 124. doi:10.3149/jms.1602.124. ISSN 1060-8265. The montage of Gay Peter Pan's phone contacts includes out celebrities like Richard Simmons and Rosie O'Donnell
  35. Rinaldi, Ray Mark (April 23, 2000). "Heroes are hard to find when the're hiding". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. F3. We've always allowed gay men on the tube – did anyone besides my grandmother really think Liberace was heterosexual? What about Paul Lynde? Richard Simmons? — but the rules are clear. It's all right to be a flamer as long as you agree to keep it secret
  36. Wieder, Judy (January 21, 2003). "The real Rosie: 365 days of amazing challenges and feisty decisions turned America's sweethheart into the fighter she's always been—and The Advocate's leading lady for 2002. (Person of the Year)". The Advocate (15): 52. ISSN 0001-8996. When Kathy Kinney came on my show and outed Richard Simmons, I didn't try to "in" Richard Simmons. The gay community accused me of in-ing Richard Simmons, like I was trying to make people think that he was straight. I will tell you this: If Richard Simmons ever wants to discuss his private life with me on national TV, he's welcome to do so. It is not anyone else's right to do that before he decides it's time. That's the reason I said to Kathy Kinney, "We'll be right back with a commercial." I'm simply saying that that right belongs to him. [Loudly] And no matter what community you feel he's a part of or what he represents to you, it is not as relevant as his own truth.
  37. "Richard Simmons Has Been Missing for Two Years, Friends Concerned He's Being Held Hostage". Yahoo News. 2016-03-13.
  38. Andy Martino (2016-03-12). "Where's Richard Simmons? Twisted mystery has friends concerned". New York Daily News.
  39. "Richard Simmons speaks out on his absence". CNN. Retrieved 14 March 2016.


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