The Mysterious Life of Bob Ross…Still a Mystery. But Now We can Watch the Very First “Joy of Painting” Episode.

A gross disservice. A disservice to you – dear reader, to me, and most of all to the legend himself, Bob Ross.

I have spewed 312 posts on this very blog, and not one of them has referenced the venerable Mr. Ross.

However, as Bob would say, “there are no mistakes; just happy accidents.” No need to dwell in the past. Let’s celebrate the present.

A present that now offers the ability to consume the very first Bob Ross episode of The Joy of Painting

Awesome.

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In fact, we can now joyously watch the entire first season of The Joy of Painting

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Actually, 70 full episodes of Bob!

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I’ve missed Bob. His soothing voice, cool as a cucumber attitude, amazing afro…and happy trees.

I was coming up during Bob’s heyday. I’m pretty sure he was my babysitter on a few occasions.

I didn’t paint. I just watched. That’s how cool Bob is.

I never knew any backstory on Bob. He was just a groovy dude jamming out rad paintings at the speed of light.

Turns out he’s a bit of a mystery. And that just adds to his cool.

Here’s a great article about Mr. Ross: The Surprisingly Mysterious Life of Famed Artist Bob Ross, and some interesting Bob facts…

  • Nobody ever really asked Bob Ross to do any interviews and he only gave a handful of them over the course of his life. “I never turn down requests for interviews. I’m just rarely asked”.  Missed opportunity!
  •  PBS once lost track of him until Ross called to let them know he’d moved to Orlando after the fact.
  • His company, Bob Ross, Inc, today is fiercely protective of their intellectual property and Bob Ross’ privacy, even in death.
  • Ross left school in the 9th grade to support himself as a carpenter with his father.
  • When he hit age 18, Ross joined the Air Force which saw him relocated from Florida to Alaska.
  • He disliked the job because it forced him to be “mean.”Ross left the Air Force after two decades of service, supposedly quipping that he’d never yell or raise his voice again.
  • Ross found inspiration after watching a show called, The Magic of Oil Painting hosted by artist, Bill Alexander.
  • Ross would later use an almost identical format for his show, The Joy of Painting, which greatly annoyed Alexander.
  • After leaving the Air Force, Ross returned to Florida in the early 1980s intent on seeking out Bill Alexander to learn the finer points of wet-on-wet painting. Alexander, who was an art teacher in his spare time, happily taught Ross everything he knew about painting, blissfully unaware that he was training his soon to be arch-nemesis.
  • With money tight, Ross made the bizarre decision to have his hair permed, exchanging the military crew cut he’d sported for two decades for his now iconic afro. Ross’ reasoning was that if he permed his hair, he’d save money in the long run because he’d no longer need to pay to have his hair trimmed once a week. Ross kept the ‘fro for the rest of his life, though grew to dislike it in his later years.
  • Exactly how Ross went from “perming his hair to save five dollars” to “being on TV” isn’t clear.
  • When the time came to film the first episode of The Joy of Painting, Ross made the conscious decision to speak as though he were talking to a singular viewer, giving the illusion that he was giving a private lesson.
  • Ross almost exclusively wore jeans and a casual shirt throughout the show’s run, a look he felt would be “current” regardless of how many years later an individual episode was aired.
  • Ross was never actually paid for appearing in the show and he never sold a single painting featured on it. The show was instead used as a vehicle to promote Ross’ teaching business, interest in which exploded after the show first aired. Over time, the business expanded to include Bob Ross branded brushes, paint, supplies, etc., all making Ross a millionaire.
  • As for his paintings, with the exception of the ones he sold to tourists during his time in Alaska, Ross gave away virtually all of them made during the show’s 403 episode run. As for the thousands of other paintings Ross made during his life, many of them were similarly given away or, when Ross became a household name, given to various charitable causes to be auctioned off.

Interested in hanging an original Bob Ross in your humble abode? Good luck.

Bob may have been charitable with his paintings, but the general public sure isn’t. Here a screen shot of the top two B. Ross paintings on Ebay – yes, that’s $20K+!!!

Related Bob Ross links…

 

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