Missing Richard Simmons Update

Ever since RICHARD SIMMONS went underground, there's been a lot of speculation about his mental and physical health.

It's been years since he's been seen publicly, and some people think his longtime housekeeper is basically holding him hostage and abusing him.  An old friend even launched a podcast about it, called "Missing Richard Simmons".

Well, TMZ says that LAPD officers went to Richard's house two weeks ago for a welfare check, after getting calls from concerned friends.  They had an extensive conversation with him, and determined that he's fine.

Earlier this week, Richard's rep said this hostage business in insane.  Richard just made the choice to retreat from the public eye . . . and might someday decide to return. 

And last year, he denied that Richard is secretly becoming a WOMAN.  Richard is 68 years old.

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