Elder abuse of celebrities has been getting a bit more attention since we all learned what Mickey Rooney suffered in his final years. Elderly people can be fragile and vulnerable, and celebrity status doesn’t make a difference at that point. It can be easy for loved ones or trusted confidantes to convince them to withdraw from the world and sign over large portions of their estate in exchange for “love” or care. And, it turns out, it may be happening now to fitness guru and sequined shorts aficionado Richard Simmons.
This whole report is terribly sad and it sounds like Simmons is dealing with significant declines in his mental faculties, but probably what got ‘The NY Daily’ to pick it up is this part right here, where his former assistant and masseuse talks about why he thinks that Simmons’s housekeeper seems to be controlling his life now:
“I think tormented is the best word to describe his mental state,” Oliveira says. “I think it was (caused by) black magic, witchcraft. That’s not close to your culture, but to my culture in Brazil, and to Mexicans” — Teresa Reveles is from Mexico — “that is a real thing. They invoke the spirits. They light black candles, and red and blue candles. I’ve never participated. I only saw from a distance. But at services, they do special meals. They offer meals to the bad spirits, and light candles, invoking with words.”
It gets a bit crazier from there:
Ah, the book. The tome to which Oliveira refers is “King Rich and the Evil Witch,” a self-published e-book in which Oliveira presents his version of the people and events in Simmons’ inner circle. In the book, labeled a “living fairy tale,” Simmons is “The Good Goofy King Rich,” Teresa Reveles is “Evil Witch Boreza,” Lenny Simmons is “Prince Benny” and Michael Catalano is “Morono.” Oliveira calls the character based on himself “The Artist.” He hopes to adapt the tale into a Broadway play. …
After many years, the now-King Rich meets the Artist, arousing jealousy in Witch Boreza and others in his court. The friends travel to help an orphanage, and later to Europe, both based on real life experiences. Tensions ensue, resulting in a dramatic — and admittedly fictional — climax, where King Rich realizes that he has been put under the witch’s spell, and breaks free of it.
“Boreza, YOU FUCKING WITCH,” King Rich shouts. “You are now expelled from the LA LA LAND KINGDOM. You have the choice to fly away on your broom now, from the castle’s balcony, or I am going to order the guards to give you to the thousands of commoners waiting outside.”
My suspicion is that this story has maybe been kicking around for a while, Simmons’s last public appearance was in 2014, but finding the former assistant/masseuse who believes he’s under a black magic spell is what got it published. I’m somewhat dubious as to his intentions for Simmons also, but it at least sounds like he’s kinder to the man than the people who seem to be controlling his time and money now. The fact that a figure like Simmons needs an “angle” to get people to pay attention to his plight is horrible, and makes me wonder what hope there could be for people who are not famous who are in similarly abusive situations. And, frankly, there’s no good solution. You can’t rescue someone who doesn’t want to be rescued, and when the LAPD did a check on Simmons last year they found him responsive and not obviously being held under duress. Hopefully he’s able to break the cycle at some point.