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Richard Simmons Reflects On His Time On General Hospital

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As he’s been diving into writing his biopic, fitness guru Richard Simmons has been sharing stories on his Twitter/X account recently about his time in Hollywood and the celebrities he’s crossed paths with over his career. In a string of posts made on May 2, the 75-year-old entertained his followers with anecdotes from his time at General Hospital.

As longtime fans will remember, Simmons played himself on the soap from 1979-1983, teaching exercise classes at the Campus Disco to the women of Port Charles. (He returned in 2013 for two episodes to help with the Nurses Ball.) According to the tale Simmons shared on Twitter, the invite to join the soap came soon after he appeared on a local morning show hosted by Regis Philbin. “A few days later, I met with the most powerful woman in daytime television: Gloria Monty,” he said of the soap’s legendary executive producer. “I also met with the head writer, Pat Falken Smith. These ladies were very smart.”

Simmons was excited about his new job, but a case of mistaken identity nearly derailed his soap opera debut! A week before he started taping, Simmons was driving to the ABC studio to shoot promotional photos when law enforcement pulled him over. “I was handcuffed and put in the back of the police car. I was driven to the sheriff’s department in West Hollywood,” he explained. “Thirty minutes later, the policeman unlocked the lock on the cell door and asked me to come out. He said, ‘We made a mistake. You were driving a car that looked like a car that robbed a 7-11. You may go.’ I told him I had to go and do a photo shoot because I was going to be on a show called General Hospital. I got a police escort to the studio so I could be there on time.”

GH Sabrina Epiphany Richard Simmons Lucy
Simmons returned to Port Charles in 2013 for the Nurses Ball, timed with the soap’s 50th anniversary.Howard Wise/

Things seemed to go much smoother for Simmons once he began working on the show and got to know his GH co-stars. “The first person that I met was Genie Francis,” he said of Laura’s portrayer, remembering her as “so young and innocent looking. I clicked immediately with her. When I got my first paycheck, I went to Tiffany’s and bought her a pair of earrings. When I gave her the blue box — the famous blue box — she gazed at the earrings. “For me?” she said. She later told me she gave the earrings to her daughter.”

Simmons also shared that Anthony Geary (ex-Luke) was always in his dressing room studying lines if he wasn’t on set, with the door typically closed. “One day, when it was opened, I asked if I could come in and sit and talk. This man won eight Daytime Emmys for playing Luke,” Simmons marveled, also noting that he sometimes chatted with “aristocratic” Jane Elliot (Tracy) in her dressing room while she was putting on makeup.

Reflecting on his first scene — an exercise class at Luke’s disco — Simmons shared, “I had never memorized lines before. So much was going on in my head. At the end of my scene, I heard the sound of heels clicking on the floor and everyone froze. It was Ms. Monty, and she was talking to me. ‘Richard, the television is thisbig. You are talking like you are on a screen in a movie theater…bring your voice down.’ So, I did.”

“Tony Geary and I on the set of GH… he is a real cooooool guy!” Simmons wrote on Facebook during his 2013 visit.

In his storyline, Simmons was helping Louise Hoven’s Beverly with her weight loss goals. The character’s journey seemed to resonate with viewers because just three weeks into his GH run, Simmons wrote, bins of letters began showing up in the dressing room he shared with three other actors. “They all said they are happy I am on General Hospital. They were inspired by Louise’s effort to drop the weight. Some of these letters were written by teenagers, women of every age, and some from men. It was overwhelming, to say the least.”

Check out this compilation of flashback scenes of Simmons and his 1980s Port Charles aerobics classes, as well as his fight with Lucy at the 2013 Nurses Ball!

Love GH? Be sure to join our We Love General Hospital Facebook group to chat about all the latest storylines and juicy gossip! 

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