Sunday, July 13, 2014
Diets and fitness gurus may come and go (and boy, do they!) but one of the enduring names in the field belongs to Richard Simmons -- he of the non-stop energy and flamboyant personality -- who rose to fame decades ago and still remains a beloved household name. (Be sure to click on the embedded links for lots of great info on Simmons from many different sources).
New Orleans-born Simmons turned his own struggles with weight into a fitness empire starting with his own gym in Los Angeles which quickly gained a loyal following. Simmons' welcoming, enthusiastic and encouraging personality plus his fun accessible workouts set to popular tunes shot him to the top of the field, resulting in nationwide fame and a string of best-selling exercise videos. After appearances on both talk shows and other network programs playing himself (including a stint on General Hospital) he finally moved into his own syndicated weekday TV series in the early 1980s.
Though probably a lot of people who weren't regular viewers think he did nothing but lead calisthenics on The Richard Simmons Show, there were a lot of comedy skits, not maybe the most sophisticated on TV but certainly far from the worst. Simmons threw himself into his roles with gusto and heart and that will take you a long way. (Clip quality isn't the best on some of these, but it's better than nothing!).
The Richard Simmons Show was more than just exercise -- it was part-talk show, part-revival meeting and all Richard Simmons with his utterly unique style and completely sincere message to his viewers to help them to feel and look better. Here's a very interesting interview from 1981 with long-time Los Angeles broadcaster Huell Howser (a beloved figure on L.A. TV who passed away in January of 2013) when the show was just getting started; lots of clips and insight into Simmons' philosophy.
As we mentioned, when he wasn't doing his own show he was guesting all over the place, then and now.
Whether you personally groove to Richard Simmons' style or not, it's impossible to deny the immense influence he has had on several generations of Americans of all ages and their quest for fitness.
Eccentric to the max and contentedly so, Richard Simmons has a reputation as an extremely nice and caring individual, maintaining close relationships with vast numbers of fans and followers and taking personal interest in their lives. You won't find many -- or any -- celebrities as deeply engaged with their audiences as Simmons. Journalists who may go into interviews with a skeptical outlook soon end up being charmed by Richard Simmons and his honesty. He is what he is, and he is definitely an important part of TV history and American pop culture.
Happy Birthday, Richard Simmons! The Flaming Nose TV Blog loves you!
Be sure to check out Richard Simmons'