Reclusive fitness icon Richard Simmons signs new licensing deal
The reclusive fitness icon may be gearing up for a comeback.
— -- Fitness icon Richard Simmons, who rose to fame more than three decades ago with his eccentric workout videos before mysteriously vanishing from the spotlight, may be gearing up to make a comeback in the public eye with a new business deal.
Simmons signed a deal for "merchandising, endorsements and licensing opportunities" with the licensing firm Prominent Brand and Talent, his rep told ABC News Wednesday.
Simmons was directly involved in pursuing the new business deal, according to Michael Catalano, Simmons' longtime manager and the co-founder of Prominent Brand and Talent. The new deal was first reported Wednesday by trade publication License.
The new business move comes as the reclusive workout icon was thrust back into the public eye with the rise of the extremely popular podcast, "Missing Richard Simmons."
The iTunes No. 1 podcast looks into what happened to the fitness celebrity, who reportedly hasn't been seen in public for more than three years. Ever since Simmons retreated to his West Hollywood home in early 2014, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories began to swirl.
Catalano denied many of the rumors surrounding Simmons' disappearance -- including the theory that he is being held hostage by his housekeeper -- telling ABC News that Simmons just wanted to step back from the spotlight and live a more private life.
"People are talking about him, so he might as well make some money off of that," Kristina Monllos, a reporter for Adweek who specializes in brands, marketing innovations and pop culture, told ABC News.
If any new products emerge from the deal, Simmons could come out of hiding to promote them, according to Catalano.