Fitness guru Richard Simmons spoke out for the first time in years following the recent debut of an investigative documentary that explores his disappearance.
“Richard is eternally grateful for the continuous outpouring of love and gratitude he has received from across the Globe,” the star’s rep, Tom Etsey, stated. “He is happy, healthy and living the life he has chosen to live.”
Simmons also spoke to fans directly via Facebook, as that same day, he posted a photo of a smiley emoji alongside the words, “Thank you, everyone, for your kindness and love! Love, Richard.”
Fans were more than elated to hear from the 74-year-old after years of silence. “I’m so proud of you for taking time for yourself. You’ve given so much of yourself to the world, and now it’s your time,” wrote one commenter. “Good for you. Thank you for blessing and inspiring me so richly.”
“We love you and we miss you. Take care of yourself… be at peace and be healthy and happy,” added another, while one Facebook user gushed, “So blessed we got to meet you. Been praying for you and hope you are well. You are truly missed.”
Meanwhile, some fans questioned the authenticity of the social media post, but his manager Michael Catalano confirmed it was the real deal. “This was a personal post from Richard,” he stated. “He was moved by the reaction to the special and all the good wishes that he received. He was encouraged by the kindness.”
The fitness star hasn’t made a public appearance since February 2014, sparking several theories: some believed he was being held hostage, while The National Enquirer claimed he was transitioning into a woman, which he denied.
Simmons and his team have insisted on multiple occasions that his disappearance from the limelight was a choice he made on his own accord.
TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons premiered on Hulu on August 22. It will start streaming for free via Tubi on August 30.