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Richard Simmons: 'No One Is Holding Me In My House As A Hostage'

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Richard Simmons with a school group in April 2010 (Photo by House Committee on Education via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Over the past couple years, Richard Simmons has become a bit of a recluse and has retreated after four decades in the public eye. Up until a couple years ago, Simmons was making plenty of public appearances and even continuing to teach classes at his studio in Beverly Hills. This weekend, The New York Daily News published "The Haunted Twilight of Richard Simmons," which includes interviews with members of his inner circle who have become increasingly worried.

"If Richard never comes out of the shadows and says he is OK, then no one will ever know the truth," an anonymous friend told the Daily News. "His fans will just wake up one day and see the horrible story that he passed away."

TMZ has been counting the days since his last public appearance—over two years, they say. There are rumors that Simmons has gained weight. One source tells the New York Daily News that his manager, brother and housekeeper are controlling his mail and phone calls and holding him hostage. One of the more colorful theories propagated by Mauro Oliveira, a formerly close friend now on the outs, is that his longtime housekeeper Teresa Reveles is controlling him through black magic. He also has some less paranormal explanations: that Simmons is depressed thanks to a chronic knee injury, the recent death of his 17-year dalmatian Hattie and plain old exhaustion from his decades in the spotlight.

Simmons has been doing interviews—on the phone, not in person—disputing some of the wilder theories. Simmons told the TODAY show, "No one is holding me in my house as a hostage."

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"That's just very silly,'' he said. "Teresa Reveles has been with me for 30 years. It's almost like we're a married couple."

He does hint at the depression alluded to in the New York Daily News piece that delves into his troubled childhood: "Some of that stuff never leaves you... It's sort of a shadow like Peter Pan."

Simmons does confirm that he needs some time out of the spotlight and says he's enjoying it, but he promises he'll be back: "I just don't want to do anything. I don't want to travel any more."

"I just sort of wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a little while,'' Simmons said. "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."

"To all the people worrying about me, I want to tell them that I love them with my whole heart and soul and that not to worry, Richard's fine. You haven't seen the last of me. I'll come back and I'll come back strong."