(CNN) — While there is no actual evidence that Richard Simmons is “missing,” that hasn’t stopped the Internet from looking for the fitness guru.
It all began with the recent publication of a New York Daily News story that talked of some of Simmons’ friends saying they have not seen him in the past two years. Simmons’ former masseur and assistant, Mauro Oliveira, told the publication he feared the “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” mogul was being “controlled” by those closest to him.
“I feel that Richard is now being controlled by the very people that he controlled his whole life,” he says. “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 (Reveles, Simmons’ live-in housekeeper). Those three people.”
But “Entertainment Tonight” reported that its executive producer, Brad Bessey, spoke with Simmons by phone.
“No one should be worried about me,” Simmons said. “The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me.”
CNN cannot independently verify the “ET” claim.
Late Sunday, a posting on Simmons’ official Facebook account said, “I can’t believe I was trending on Facebook! After some questions about my health and whereabouts, I’ll be calling in to Today Show tomorrow morning. If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, I hope you’ll tune in!”
“Today” aired a phone interview Monday morning between Simmons and anchor Savannah Guthrie. He said it was his decision to go into seclusion because “I just sort of wanted to be a little bit of a loner for a little while.”
“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,” Simmons told Guthrie.
The star’s representative, Tom Estey, told People his client is safe and simply out of the limelight.
“As I have stated in the past, these claims are untrue and preposterous,” Estey said. “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.”
The Internet loves a good mystery, and theories — and concerns for the beloved Simmons — have abounded.
While his Facebook and Twitter accounts have been pretty active, an Instagram account that links to his website had its last posting — a picture of Simmons at a YouTube event — more than two years ago.
A posting in 2014 on his official Facebook page after TMZ speculated about his absence referenced a reported knee injury and assured fans that Simmons would return.
“I am so touched by the outpouring of love and concern I have received today,” the posting read. “I have had a tough time dealing with this injury, as it is keeping me from doing what I truly love to do and that is to teach classes around the world. Make sure you keep Sweatin’!”
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