Why Is the Internet Obsessed With Finding Richard Simmons?

The fitness superstar is off the grid.

Getty Images / Laura Cavanaugh

It may have escaped the notice of much of the public, but Richard Simmons is missing. He’s probably not “missing” in the sinister sense of the word, but no one — and that means no one — seems to know what he’s up to.

Most famous for his outgoing personality and energetic aerobics regimens, Simmons hasn’t been seen since February 15, 2014, when he failed to show up at his exercise class at his LA studio (called Slimmons). The studio has since been shuttered and closed and his Hollywood Hills home appears desolate. No more do Hollywood tour bus riders look forward to having him rush out to greet them. The New York Times reported that Simmons stopped answering his phone as well. A spokesman for Simmons has since said that he’s just fine, and he confirmed as much in a phone interview last year, in which he expressed his desire to be a private person for a while.

But concern is mounting across the internet, as more and more people are taking notice.

The confirmations of Simmons’s wellbeing have done little to assuage those worries or dispell the theories of his friends and fans. His disappearance has even sparked the creation of a podcast, “Missing Richard Simmons”, which was started by a student of Simmons’s, Dan Taberski. The podcast has quickly risen to become one of the most popular in America — and in several other countries as well.

Adding to the internet hysteria are a number of conspiracy theories that have been put forth regarding just what’s happened to the fitness icon.

The Washington Post reports that some people believe, among other things, that Simmons “is allegedly being held hostage by his longtime housekeeper, who is also, supposedly, a witch,” or that, following the death of his dalmatian, a depressed Simmons “is now also supposedly losing his mental faculties.” In the darkest of these suggested explanations, Simmons’s “knees are perhaps finally shot” and he can’t deal with the embarrassment of it all.

These theories are silly, of course (even though that’s never stopped people before), but they serve to highlight a real concern that the public has about this beloved public figure who so suddenly vanished from the spotlight.

While some might purport not to care, Twitter and other social media sites are ever more aflutter with speculation and worry.

It’s unclear whether Simmons will ever make a public re-emergence, but it is clear that there are a number of people who would like him to.

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