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  • Writer's picturePodcast Librarian

Missing Richard Simmons: Compelling but ethically iffy

The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):

On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him - and no one knows why he left. Filmmaker Dan Taberski was a Slimmons regular and a friend of Richard’s. Missing Richard Simmons is Dan’s search for Richard - and the deeper he digs, the stranger it gets. ⠀

Series or standalone:


Begin listening to:

Where's Richard?


Investigative reporting/storytelling


Dan Taberski of Headlong

Sound/production quality:

Very good

Rating/age suitability:

Adult (do kids even know who Richard Simmons is?)

Approximate length of episodes:

30 minutes

Curricular ties:


Similar recommended pods:

Running from Cops

Podcast Librarian’s Review:

From filmmaker and podcaster Dan Tabersky (Running from COPS; Surviving Y2K), MRS is a narrative investigation into what happened to Richard Simmons when he abruptly disappeared from the public world in 2014. I listened to this pod in real-time when it came out, and I hadn’t even noticed that Simmons had been absent—but I immediately got hooked on this story. For Dan, the investigation is personal; according to him, he was friends with Richard, or at least friendly enough to have forged a relationship through Slimmons, Richard’s now-shuttered fitness studio. The pod goes through all the theories (including a pretty wild conspiracy) about Richard’s sudden disappearance, and Dan speaks to people close to Richard who can provide clues to his current whereabouts and lifestyle. Ultimately, the series concludes but perhaps not in the way one would expect or hope for—a quick Google search can reveal the outcome—but I recommend listening and just getting wrapped up in the story. The pod’s reception was not entirely positive; there is a NY Times article, among others, that calls into question Dan’s motives and tactics. To be honest, the pod never struck me as exploitative when I listened; I got so lost in the story--but now I can recognize the other side of the argument. It does bring up a good point about the fine line between investigation and invasion of privacy (see my recent review of Room 20). Overall, this binge-worthy pod is a compelling mystery about one of the world’s most beloved and flamboyant celebrities.

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