Bob Ross (1942 – 1995) was an American television host, art instructor, internet celebrity and of course, a celebrated painter. He has been in the highlight for years because there hasn’t been any artist in the history of art who has inspired more people to join this colorful world than him.
People may joke around about him because of his hippy swagger and cozy talk, but he managed to bring a lot to his easel. Granted, there will be miles and miles of difference in the work he does in comparison to artists like Clyde Aspevig. Truthfully, however, Bob Ross is closer to them than you think.
Additionally, it wasn’t just his art that inspired people. There were also people out there who simply loved to hear him talk! His team even got letters from blind people who said the reason why they tuned in was to hear him talk – simply because he gave them hope.
Anybody who can do this deserves a little more attention from the art community. We certainly dug into this person and here are some things we found out about Bob Ross that most people don’t know.
- 1. As A Kid His Bath-Time Toy Was A Live Alligator
Bob Ross was a lifelong lover of animals- which is why he also had a knack for saving and nursing wounded animals. When he was growing up in Florida, he had brought a rather strange addition to his family – a live alligator! He did so because he was attempting to nurse the alligator back to health and kept him in the family bathtub!
Even when Ross grew up, he could always be seen playing host to a number of injured and orphaned animals. This also included an epileptic squirrel – which of course, lived in Ross’s empty Jacuzzi.
- 2. Believe It Or Not, He Was A Military Man
Before he became a painter, Bob Ross had spent almost 20 years in the United States Air Force – where he retired at the rank of Master Sergeant. Ross even said that he was the guy in the army who would make someone scrub off the latrine and the make the beds. He even admitted to screaming at people when they were late. When Ross had retired though, he had allegedly made a promise to himself not to scream at another soul again. This was, therefore, the beginning of his soft demeanor.
‘The Joy of Painting’ Managed to Become a Worldwide Hit
Not only did Bob Ross’s show manage to be carried by 95% of all the TV stations across America, but it had an avid viewership of 93.5 million homes. The show had also managed to break its national followership and was broadcasted in Turkey, South Korea, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom!
- 3. He Worked for Free
Bob Ross’s ‘The Joy of Painting’ had run on from 1983 to 1994 on PBS. So did this mean that Bob Ross was able to benefit with fat stacks of cash? Well as it turns out, not quite. Bob Ross had, in reality, agreed to do this show for free! So where did his income come from? Well, he made his living from Bob Ross Inc. which sold teaching classes, how-to video tapes and art supplies while also going over trade show circuits.
This brings about the question as to how he managed to find the time to tape The Joy of Painting? Well, apparently Bob Ross recorded these seasons as fast as he could paint. Ross had banged out one entire season with 13 episodes in as fast as 2 days. By doing so, Bob Ross was able to free himself to get back into teaching.
- 4. Bob Ross Didn’t Sell Any of His Paintings
In an interview with New York Times in 1991, Bob Ross had claimed that he had made over 30,000 paintings since he was just 18 and was stationed in Alaska by the Air Force. When Ross had died of Lymphoma in 1995, most of his works had either ended up with the PBS, or were donated in charity. This is probably why most of his works are simply floating around all over the world.
While most of his works weren’t sold, Ross did manage to sell some of his souvenir gold pans while he was stationed in Alaska. At the time, however, he only managed to get $25 a pop for his gold pans which featured the Alaskan scenes painted over the bottom.
- 5. He Didn’t Really Love His Fro
It is very hard to imagine Bob Ross and not immediately image his giant and bushy mushroom cloud of hair which seemed to explode off his head. Well, supposedly Bob Ross hated this haircut but his uncanny knack for marketing would keep from trimming it off. He knew that without his fro, his conservative look would really undermine his business. This is why Ross stuck to his permed visage – which was also emblazoned onto all the tubes of paint that he sold.
- 6. Bob Ross Was A Student of William Alexander
In the second season of The Joy of Painting, which was featured in 1984, Bob Ross had decided to dedicate the show to his teacher. William Alexander was the person who got Bob Ross started and had even filmed a promo with his student. Here he said that he handed his mighty brush to well-deservingly mighty man – Bob Ross.
And with that, this new era of art had begun. There had even come a time in his art career, where a man named Alexander Art told him that the demand created by The Joy of Painting was too difficult to keep up. This is where Art had suggested that Bob Ross begin his self-branded line of art supplies.
Wasn’t that a lot more than the afro-supporting punch line of artist jokes? If you wish to dig some more about Bob Ross and his life, you can find more information here.