Is Richard Simmons planning his return to public life? Reclusive star signs with licensing firm
This story originally appeared on PEOPLE.com.
It’s been three years since Richard Simmons was last seen in public. And though the reclusive fitness guru may have fled the spotlight for a quiet life at his Hollywood Hills home, a new business deal might be the first step in his return.
Prominent Brand + Talent – the management company co-founded Simmons’ longtime manager Michael Catalano — announced on Wednesday that it had secured the exclusive worldwide rights to represent Simmons’ for merchandising, licensing, and endorsements, License Global reported.
New products are being designed, the release said, to build upon Simmons’ wide array of merchandise — sold in retailers like QVC and Walmart, among others.
In an interview with The New York Times, Catalano spoke about the possibility of Simmons’ involvement in promoting the new products publicly. “All I can say, at least for now, is it is possible,” he said. “But it is yet to be determined, I would say.”
As the newspaper noted, it would be the first time the 68-year-old has been seen since February 2014, when he taught his last class at the now-closed Slimmons Studio in Beverly Hills, California. His self-imposed exile prompted friend and Slimmons Studio attendee Dan Taberski to create the hit podcast Missing Richard Simmons — putting Simmons’ sudden departure back into the spotlight and causing many to question his well-being.
While those close to Simmons — including Catalano and his brother – have debunked those concerns to PEOPLE, the podcast did create a new interest in the star and lead to the Prominent Brand + Talent, The Times reported.
“Certainly I would say, without a doubt, a younger demo is aware of Richard as a result,” Catalano told them. “At the end of the day, if it helps deliver his message to people who were unaware of it previously, fantastic. That’s what Richard’s mission has always been.”
Catalano added that Simmons was directly involved in pursuing the deal — and that his new offerings would “be in keeping with Richard’s lifelong mission and messaging.”
“We’re talking about inspiration-themed products that will hopefully accomplish what Richard really set his life’s work to do, which is to help people take better care of themselves,” he explained. “We’re not licensing tires and party hats.”