Richard Simmons was one of the most beloved celebrities in America in 1980 but by 2014 he had completely disappeared from the spotlight.
Everywhere you looked the frizzy-haired, eccentric entertainer was there. From his enthusiastic daytime nighttime TV shows to cookbooks, workout videos and infomercials but after three decades of being a high-profile celebrity, he suddenly vanished.
Now the New York Post has reported a recently released documentary has made a bold claim about where the star has been.
While many wild rumours circulated about where the fitness star was– including being held hostage by his housekeeper and gender reassignment surgery, the documentary has found a rather simple reason.
Titled, TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons, the documentary has alleged the star cannot leave his home due to a birth defect.
TMZ managing editor Fabian Garcia said: "Something that happened to him at birth is directly connected to his disappearance - a birth defect that significantly affected one of his legs.
"He was born without a full set of bones in his foot and it causes physical and emotional problems."
The producer of the film Charles Latibeaudiere went on to declare the fitness star turned to food amid the pain and, in turn, "gained a lot of weight" which only put him in more pain.
Fox also reported the star was told by a doctor in 2014 that he needed a left knee replacement and if he didn't have one he may never exercise again.
The documentary claimed the knee replacement was "the key" to Simmons' disappearance.
"The prospect of surgery, of becoming sedentary, caused Richard to sink into a deep depression."
News of the star's knee troubles first made headlines in 2014 with TMZ reporting in the documentary that he underwent a right knee replacement which left him in a considerable amount of pain.
Simmons was then told he needed his left knee replaced but allegedly refused the operation due to the trauma after his first replacement.
TMZ's Harvey Levin said: "We know still that to this day, Richard still hasn't gotten corrective surgery on his left knee. He walks with a cane and that explains a lot. He's just not the same guy anymore."
While Simmons has retreated from public life, he did update his fans in 2017 with a statement to People Magazine following hospitalisation for stomach problems.
He said: "Hello to everyone who has shown concern for me and sent their good wishes.
"You will never know how much it means to me. Aren't you sick of hearing and reading about me?! LOL Well by now you know that I'm not 'missing,' just a little under the weather. I'm sure I will be feeling good and back home in a couple of days."
He also re-released workout videos on his Youtube channel during the 2020 Covid pandemic in an effort to inspire fans to work out and stay fit.
It is not yet known when the documentary will be available to New Zealand viewers.