Click here for the “Today” show interview with Richard Simmons that aired this morning. I watched it on TV about an hour ago. It was a phone interview with Savannah Guthrie that took place on Sunday, and they played it at 7:40 this morning, over a series of photos and b-roll footage of Richard’s appearances, classes, and videos.
You can listen for yourself, but Richard did pretty much exactly what I thought he would do: he confirmed that he’s happy and healthy, refuted the claims from the New York Daily News article that he was being held against his will, and told his friends and fans not to worry. There were no shocking revelations, no heated exchanges, no attacks on the people who have put forth outrageous claims.
“For all the people that are worrying about me, I want to tell them that I love them with all my heart and soul. And that not to worry, Richard’s fine. And you haven’t seen the last of me, I’ll come back, and I’ll come back strong.”
My heart skipped a beat when he first began talking. It was a powerful moment hearing his voice for the first time in a long time. It was instantly recognizable, even after over two years of silence.
There’s a part of me that wishes Savannah dug a little deeper, asking, for example, why it’s taken him so long to put his fans at ease, but I’m sure I could nitpick any interview, and that’s not the point.
I’m just happy that Richard has finally added his voice to the conversation, and that’s something I’ve been wanting for years. I asked, way back in June 2014, that Richard let us know he’s okay, and that we shouldn’t worry, and now he’s done exactly that. His voice, during the interview, didn’t have his same trademark effervescence or ebullience that we’re used to in a Richard Simmons television appearance. There was little enthusiasm. His words were measured and carefully chosen. But it was Richard, talking in a tone that is rare for him, but one that I’ve heard before.
I don’t see any point into speculating about his health – mental, emotional, or otherwise – based on the interview, because 1) we’d never get any answers, and 2) I don’t think he wanted to do the interview, and that would affect his demeanor. I think it was a public relations necessity, based on the whirlwind of news that circulated this weekend, and in that regard, Richard did what was needed. He delivered enough to quiet the media, or at least pivot it away from headlines claiming he was being held hostage via magic spell.
I don’t think we’re going to get more, either. Well, a little more: Richard granted “Entertainment Tonight” an interview on Sunday, too, that’s airing tonight, but they already ran an article online, and it sounds very similar to what he shared on “Today.” (My TiVo is set regardless.)
So, where to go from here? I’m going to listen to Richard, and I’m not going to worry. I’m going to continue sending him my love, continue to keep him in my heart, continue taking classes at his studio. I’m going to email him today and thank him for letting me hear his voice. And I’m going to wait for the return he says is going to happen, and I will give him a hug when I see him again. That’s what friends do.