In PEOPLE’s exclusive sneak peek at What Really Happened to Richard Simmonsthe workout star-turned-actress said she noticed Simmons may have had some insecurities before he went off the grid and was last seen publicly over eight years ago.
“One night I was on the Larry King Show and he was either going to be a guest or supposed to be a guest, and I heard through the Larry King people that he didn’t want to be on the show with me,” Somers said in the clip.
“I said, ‘Why?’ and he said, ‘She’ll make fun of me.’ And that’s not my style, I never make fun of anybody. But that’s when I realized a little insecurity has gotten in there,” she continued. “I liked him. I was always so surprised when he thought I’d make fun of him. But doesn’t that show you he’s got a heartache? Something’s broken inside because he did it. He had it and then let it go. “
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After decades in the spotlight, Simmons suddenly stopped teaching at his famous workout studio on Feb. 15, 2014, and has not been seen in public since.
The mystery surrounding his public disappearance has been fueled by the hit podcast Missing Richard Simmonswhich has given rise to sensational claims that Simmons is being held hostage in his Hollywood Hills home by his housekeeperpossibly transitioning into a woman, and other theories.
Paul Archuleta/Getty, Jamie McCarthy/Getty
In the new documentary, airing on FOX, TMZ analyzes the facts behind Simmons’ departure from the public eye by speaking to those who knew him.
Along with Somers, the special features interviews from writer Bruce Vilanch, and Simmons’ longtime costume designer, Leslie Wilshire.
TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons premieres Monday, Aug. 22 at 8/7c on FOX. The special will stream for free on Tubi starting August 30.