Exercise guru Richard Simmons called the "TODAY" show on March 14 to dispel rumors that he was being held captive against his will in his own home (video below).
“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage," Simmons told "TODAY" co-host Savannah Guthrie via phone, notes Uproxx.com.
"You know, I do what I want to do as I’ve always done," Simmons added. "So, people should sort of just believe what I have to say. Because, like, I’m Richard Simmons.”
Mauro Oliveira, Simmons' former assistant and private masseur, recently told the New York Daily News that the 65-year-old celebrity said to him in April 2014: “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.”
Oliveira recalled that Simmons' housekeeper, Teresa Reveles, demanded that he leave Simmons' Los Angeles home. Oliveira said he asked Simmons, “Is she controlling your life now?” and Simmons allegedly replied, "Yes."
Guthrie asked Simmons about his housekeeper, and he stated, “That’s just very silly. Teresa Reveles has been with me for 30 years. It’s almost like we’re a married couple."
Guthrie added that people have said that it wasn't like Simmons to lose touch completely, and he said, "I just sort of wanted to be a little bit of a loner for awhile.”
According to the New York Daily News, several friends of Simmons have said that they have not heard from him in more than two years; his last public appearance was more than two years ago.
Oliveira told the newspaper
I think tormented is the best word to describe his mental state. I think it was black magic, witchcraft. That’s not close to your culture, but to my culture in Brazil, and to Mexicans that is a real thing. They invoke the spirits.
They light black candles, and red and blue candles. I’ve never participated. I only saw from a distance. But at services, they do special meals. They offer meals to the bad spirits, and light candles, invoking with words.
Simmons wrote on Facebook on March 13: "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!"