Monday, March 14, 2016

The haunted twilight of Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons opened his front door, frail and trembling. Mauro Oliveira, a visual artist who was also Simmons’ masseur and former assistant, greeted him on the front porch, concerned about his friend. After receiving an ominous phone call from Simmons, Oliveira had driven his truck to the Hollywood Hills, past the two metal gates that Simmons had left ajar for him, and into the driveway. He reached the porch through the white columns that recalled an antebellum Southern mansion, and past Simmons’ bronze statue of a regal Dalmatian.

Wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants, a gaunt Simmons led Oliveira through the foyer, and into the living room. “Mauro, we can no longer see each other,” Simmons told him in a quiet, defeated voice.

It was April 2014. Oliveira, a 49-year-old from Brazil with the burly arms and trim physique of a gym rat and close-cropped black hair, had met Simmons 13 months earlier, and the two became fast friends. But he was catching a weird vibe lately, and hadn’t seen him in a while, before the then 65-year-old Simmons summoned him to the mansion, saying only that they needed to talk.

“What’s going on, Richard?” Oliveira asked. “Why are you saying that?”

“I don’t know,” Simmons replied. “I just want to be by myself, and I want to be in the house, and we’re never going to see each other again.”

Simmons’ home is a mixture of classical architecture and design that recalls his New Orleans youth.
He collects offbeat pieces, including a menagerie of dolls highlighted by a rare Barbra Streisand model and the colorful work of Mexican painter and sculptor Sergio Bustamante. As they spoke, he and Oliveira stood near an ornate grand piano.

“Let’s talk it over,” Oliveira said. “I want to sit here, and make sure you’ll be OK. Let’s go upstairs, I’ll give you a massage and relax you.”

Simmons called up to Teresa Reveles, his live-in housekeeper of nearly three decades. “Mauro is going upstairs with me,” he said.

“No, no, no!” Reveles shouted from the second floor, according to Oliveira. “Get out! Get out!”

Oliveira looked at his friend, who told him in a soft voice, “You’ve gotta go.”

Oliveira leaned in toward Simmons. “Is she controlling your life now?”

As Oliveira tells it, Simmons looked down, and with one resigned word confirmed his worst suspicions: “Yes.” This was the last time he saw his friend.

With Reveles shrieking behind him, Oliveira hustled out to his truck, picked up his cell phone, and asked an intermediary to contact Simmons’ older brother, Lenny. He and Lenny did not have a close relationship, but Oliveira knew of nowhere else to turn.

Oliveira is calm as he recounts this story, but irritation enters his voice as he recalls a threat leveled that day, nearly two years ago. “Later that evening, Richard called me and said that his manager and Teresa wanted to put a restraining order against me — you can see how controlling they are — and I said, ‘What restraining order? You are the one who called me. I’m not invading your privacy, or your house.’ That was the end of that. No restraining order was put against me.”

Oliveira has spoken briefly about his privileged access to Simmons during this dark period, but never in this much detail. He recently underwent a heart procedure, which he blames on Simmons-related stress, and is reluctant to invite further strain. But he agreed to elaborate on a Hollywood mystery that has previously been told only in a few cryptic tabloid items.

Richard Simmons has vanished from public view, and many who know him best say they haven’t had any contact in more than two years. All repeat the same message, some anonymously and some on the record: Simmons stopped returning calls and emails more than two years ago, behavior that is highly out of character, and his housekeeper is blocking access to him at home. Indeed, for a generous and intensely social public figure, one who taught classes at his Beverly Hills gym until a few years ago; has sold more than 20 million exercise videos, including the mega-popular “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” series; appeared many times on David Letterman’s shows, “General Hospital,” his own talk show and infomercials; and was a seemingly ubiquitous presence for decades, the silence is striking.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
The haunted twilight of Richard Simmons

1 comment:

Finny said...

If you have alot of money and are a celebrity, you may end up just like Richard Simmons. And long after you're gone, society will find out what's been going and be puzzled about it. It happens all the time.