Richard Simmons is larger than life. He’s an ubiquitous dynamo who has been changing lives for decades. Some of us remember first seeing Richard on “General Hospital” early in his television career. Others remember first seeing his enthusiasm for getting fit on “The Richard Simmons Show.” His videos and DVDs made their way into into homes worldwide, and many schools used his programs for physical education. His health and fitness empire and charisma have made him a Hollywood Icon. He is a philanthropist in the truest sense of the word: Richard Simmons loves people.
Richard’s mother, Shirley, was a fan dancer in New Orleans when he was a young man, performing under the stage name Nancy Lee. Richard took a moment between his fitness tours and entrepreneurial activities to share with us about his mother.
RED SNAPPER: HOW DID SHIRLEY GET INTO BURLESQUE IN NEW ORLEANS? IT SEEMS TO BE A NATURAL TRANSITION FOR MANY ACTRESSES.
RICHARD SIMMONS: My mom started out as a dancer in New York and then got married and moved to New Orleans where my mom and dad worked. My mom performed all around the United States. My dad made my mom’s costumes.
RED: TELL US THE STORY OF HOW SHE BECAME A FAN DANCER.
RICHARD: The fan dancer got sick and they handed the fans to my mom. [The fans were five feet tall and Shirley was under five feet. She was very petite!]
RED: HOW DID SHIRLEY’S CAREER IN BURLESQUE INFLUENCE YOU?
RICHARD: My mom influenced me in many ways. I learned to be creative, take chances and entertain people.
Richard is creative and entertaining, which you can see in his new YouTube video “Hair Do.” He has a new workout system with the Food Mover in release. His Sparkle jewelry line is a new and fabulous addition to JTV.com.
You can witness Richard’s burlesque firsthand in his Slimmons Studio in Beverly Hills. Many burlesque dancers have taken his workout class, joining ranks with fitness enthusiasts and first timers alike. His costumes always have pizzazz, and he has been known to strip down to workout wear during the class, eliciting hoots and hollers from the students. You can also see how much he cares about each and every individual student working to reach their personal fitness goals.
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We are delighted to have Richard present the Shirley Simmons Most Classic Award at our Festival in December.