Richard Simmons Reminisces About Iconic ‘Letterman’ and ‘Whose Line’ Appearances

‘They thought that I was a bit sassy‘
Richard Simmons Reminisces About Iconic ‘Letterman’ and ‘Whose Line’ Appearances

Until recently, Richard Simmons was such a recluse that ethically suspect podcasts were devoted to figuring out if he was still alive. But recently, Simmons has re-emerged publicly, at least on social media. Credit Pauly Shore’s misguided biopic efforts for encouraging Simmons to speak up again — upon hearing the news, the weight-loss guru took to his social accounts to say he wanted nothing to do with Shore. 

After smacking down the Weasel in late April, Simmons hasn’t shut up, spinning yarns about his long career in entertainment. Last week, Simmons social media ran with a Late Night Memories theme, including stories about his favorite appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Simmons explained that he had never heard of Whose Line before he was approached to be on the show, but its producers “thought I would be very good on it.” It’s where Simmons met Wayne Brady (“Mr. Brady is multi-talented. He can sing and he could dance. He is such a great host on Let’s Make a Deal.”) and Drew Carey, who Simmons noted was the host of The Price Is Right. “These two men love to give away prizes.” 

According to Simmons, Whose Line Is It Anyway didn’t air his episode right away “because they thought that I was a bit sassy.” But fans loved it: “When it aired everyone stopped me on the street and told me how funny it was.”

The show’s Colin Mochrie agreed. When I spoke to him last year, he told me that “Richard Simmons is responsible for one of the funniest moments on television. He was so committed to what we were doing and obviously had a lot of fun doing it. I truly believe, all humility aside, that is one of the 100 funniest moments in television history.” 

But Simmons knows what Twitter/X fans are clamoring for, “the nighttime show you all want to hear about.” That’s Letterman, a show Simmons claimed he’d never seen before his first appearance since “I don’t stay up late at night.”

For his inaugural guest spot, Simmons showed up with a metal briefcase. Producers hesitated, telling Simmons that Letterman didn’t like surprises. Simmons brought it out anyway, opening it to reveal $10,000 in crisp $100 bills. It was a bribe to get Letterman to appear in his next Sweatin’ to the Oldies video. Not surprisingly, Letterman turned down the cash. 

Then Letterman commented on Simmons’ shiny legs. Oh, that’s Cellular body lotion by La Prairie, Simmons replied. “I said I have a bottle of the lotion in my small — very small — dressing room. I said would you like me to get it and rub some on your legs? He had a look of pain on his face.”

Next, Simmons lifted his right leg and “put it behind my head like a contortionist,” a move that caused Letterman to back away from his desk. “I don’t know,” Simmons tweeted, “but for some reason I enjoyed aggravating David.” 

Simmons continued that aggravation through the years, flying down from the ceiling Tinkerbell-style, rubbing his greasy legs on Letterman’s desk, and running through the audience dressed as a chicken. 

His favorite Late Night story? Letterman got his mother on a video call, who revealed that she had an unexpected visitor in her Indiana home. “All of a sudden I popped up right next to her. I put my arm around her shoulder. Mr L said ‘don’t touch my mother.’ Then I held Ms Dorothy’s hand and kissed her on her cheek. David said, ‘Go take a shower and wipe your face clean.’” 

Simmons knew Letterman hated to be touched but that didn’t stop him. Letterman was so annoyed that he sprayed down his guest with a fire extinguisher. 

The extinguisher fumes sent Simmons to the hospital thanks to an asthma attack, and that was that. Or as he concluded, “I realized my appearances on David’s show were over.” 


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