Robert Norman Ross, popularly known as Bob Ross, was a painter, television host of his own painting show, and an art instructor who lived during the 90s. He spent several years of his life teaching tricks and methods of painting through his television show. Following are several interesting Bob Ross facts about his life, family, and career.
1. Early Life
Bob Ross was born on 29th July 1942 in the city of Daytona Beach in Florida, United States. His father was a carpenter and his mother was a waitress. He grew up in Orlando and had one sibling, a half-brother named Jim. He was considered to be a caring & sensitive child as he was often seen taking care of injured animals. When he was in 9th grade, he dropped out of high school and joined his father to work as a carpenter. While working, he even lost a part of his index finger. Read below to know about Bob Ross facts about his family. (See 6 Most Liberal Cities in the United States)
2. His Family
Bob Ross was married thrice in his lifetime. This is one of the most talked-about Bob Ross facts.
- He was married to Vivian Ridge in 1965 and had a son Robert Stephen Ross. However, the marriage ended in 1977.
- Then, he married Jane Ross in the same year. His second marriage lasted for the longest time i.e. till 1992 until the death of his wife.
- After three years, he married Lynda Brown but this marriage ended in that very same year.
- He also had a kid from a relationship during his teenage years. He took care of both the kids as a good father.
3. Life in The Army
At the age of 18, Bob Ross was enlisted in United States Air Force. He was appointed as the Medical Records Technician and was later promoted to the position of Master Sergeant at the Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. His service in the military lasted for about 2 decades. It was during his life in Alaska that he used his break times to paint inspired by mesmerizing snowscapes. (See 8 Presidents Before George Washington)
4. Career as an Artist
When Bob was working as a part-time bartender, he came across a television show named, The Magic of Oil Painting by German painter Bill Alexander. The show taught techniques based on the painting styles of the 16th century, popularly known as wet-on-wet. He learned and mastered this technique and could make the painting within 30 minutes. So, when he started selling the paintings of Alaskan Landscapes, the earnings he received were higher than his salary from the military. Thus, he retired from the Air Force from the position of Master Sergeant in 1981.
5. Meeting with Alexander
The life of Bob Ross changed when he returned to Florida after his tenure in military service. He joined Alexander in his Alexander Magic Art Supplies Company, which made him his successor. Alexander asked Bob to carry on the legacy by inheriting the company and selling the products. He agreed and set out on a year-long journey of selling paintings as well as teaching painting to people. (Also read Why was Napoleon called The Little Corporal?)
6. Bob Ross Inc
One of his students, Annette Kowalski was very impressed by his calm nature and amazing talent when she attended the painting sessions in Clearwater, Florida. So, she convinced him to start something under his own name. Even though, he did not like his afro-styled hair but could not change it because Annette made the logo of the company using that style.
- She helped him break a deal with the PBS station, which led to the start of his television show The Joy of Painting.
- Annette also started a company under his name to promote his art supplies and sell his paintings.
7. The Television Show
One of the interesting Bob Ross facts is that he never charged anything for the television show he did for almost 11 years. The income which he earned was mostly from the art supplies and the paintings sold by his company. Bob usually finished the show within 2 days as he was a quick worker, and also because he wanted to go back to his teaching classes.
The show aired from 11th January 1983 and continued till 17th March 1994. Every episode was of half an hour in which Bob taught his viewers about the wet-on-wet oil painting techniques. He used to complete one painting in each episode of the show and even answered queries sent by the viewers.
8. No Interviews: Why The Secrecy?
Bob Ross never gave many interviews and often, he was difficult to locate. He preferred to stay as far away from the camera as possible. He kept a low profile because he never wanted his family to be disturbed by the media. But in one of his interviews, he said that he did not get offers for interviews either, unlike other television personalities.(See How much does a Maaco paint job cost?)
9. Bob Ross’s Paintings
Bob Ross was a true artist who loved the way he painted but never considered his paintings a commercial item to be sold for profit. He never liked to sell his paintings at high prices because he considered the process to be more valuable than the finished product. The entire life of Bob Ross was devoted to painting and teaching others how to paint.
Bob Ross’s family supported him in his passion and never pulled him back. He never painted humans, although, animals were often seen in his paintings. He preferred painting landscapes and other natural sceneries as he adored them. This is another one of interesting Bob Ross facts. (See Why is The Mona Lisa So Expensive?)
10. The End of a Great Artist
Another one of Bob Ross facts is that he was a chain smoker throughout his life and faced several adverse health effects because of it. He was suffering from a disease called lymphoma. It is speculated that he suffered from this condition due to his constant exposure to the thinner used in paintings. However, doctors still can’t verify this. He passed away on 4th July 1995 in Orlando, Florida.