Here’s The Truth About Bob Ross’ Life Before He Got Famous

Here’s The Truth About Bob Ross’ Life Before He Got Famous


Lots of people know who Bob Ross is. Many viewers watched The Joy of Painting on
PBS or came across his happy little trees in some other way. But Ross was intensely private and really
kept his personal life hidden. Here is what we know about him before he became
famous. We’ll get this one out of the way right up
front, so that you’ll have some time to recover. Bob Ross did not a natural afro. It was actually a perm. In truth, his hair was naturally straight. He initially devised his now-iconic hairstyle
as a cost-cutting measure. He used to get regular crew cuts, but then
he let his hair grow and got a perm so that he would never need to pay for a haircut again. So that decision immediately made sense from
a budgetary perspective, but then Ross became famous and his signature afro got incorporated
into his logo. Suddenly he was full of regret, reportedly
lamenting that he could never go back to his natural look. Ultimately, though, keeping the curly hair
was a smart business move. Ross’ signature hairdo is so iconic that everyone
instantly knows him from his silhouette alone. It should be noted that Bob Ross was a very
private person. In fact, he was so private that just about
everything that is known about him comes from sources other than himself. Even the authors who wrote the book Happy
Clouds, Happy Trees: The Bob Ross Phenomenon had to include a disclaimer that they weren’t
entirely sure what they were talking about. As they put it, “If we had wanted to write an accurate biographical
book on Bob Ross, that goal would be difficult to accomplish.” Perhaps the closest thing to an official Ross
biography is the documentary Bob Ross: The Happy Painter, though it doesn’t contain any
particularly shocking or deeply personal revelations. Ross once claimed that he never turned down
interview requests and that he was just rarely asked. But another time, he admitted that he enjoyed
staying hidden and that he was often, quote, “sort of hard to find.” So hard to find, in fact, that he evidently
once moved to Orlando without telling PBS where he’d gone. So perhaps that claim about Ross rarely being
asked for interviews is more about him intentionally not answering the phone. Bob Ross was an animal lover, which is unsurprising
given his famously soft-spoken demeanor. In fact, it would make perfect sense if one
day some archival footage were to surface featuring him skipping through the forest,
surrounded by chirping birds and baby animals. His affection for all creatures great and
happy dates all the way back to his childhood. He even once tried to rehabilitate an injured
alligator in his family’s bathtub, which must’ve gone over fabulously with his parents. At one point he also had an armadillo, and
other sources say he rescued birds with broken wings and even kept an epileptic squirrel
in his empty hot tub. Ross sometimes even brought animals onto the
set of The Joy of Painting, and he wasn’t shy about his fondness for feathered and furry
things. He once said, “I guess I’m a little weird. I like to talk to trees and animals. That’s okay though; I have more fun than most
people.” “I just don’t have the heart to shoot Bambi
anymore once you hold one of these yeah, deer hunting days are over.” Beyond the alligator-in-the-bathtub episode,
little is known about Ross’ childhood. It is known at least that his mom was named
Ollie and his dad was named Jack. Ollie and Jack’s relationship was kind of
troubled, in the most confusing way possible for their son. Evidently they divorced, got remarried to
other people, divorced again, and then got remarried to each other again. So Ross’ childhood was probably a little bit
unstable. When he was in the ninth grade he decided
to drop out of school and join his dad in the carpentry business, which he didn’t turn
out to be very good at. The decision left him without a high school
diploma and also with a missing fingertip on the index finger of his left hand, which
was something he remained self-conscious about for the rest of his life. In fact, when he appeared on The Joy of Painting,
he deliberately held his palette in such a way that his injury was hidden from viewers. Ross was born in Daytona Beach, Florida, and
raised in Orlando. If things had gone differently for him, he
might’ve become famous for his paintings of happy little hurricanes, happy little retirement
homes, and happy little alligators instead of those sweeping, mountainous landscapes
he was so fond of. So how did he end up with an interest in alpine
forests and towering peaks? Well, when he was 18, he joined the Air Force,
which sent him to a military base in Fairbanks, Alaska. That must’ve been a difficult adjustment for
someone used to moderate winters, but Ross appears to have acclimated admirably. He spent most of the next 20 years in the
Land of the Midnight Sun, surrounded by natural beauty, and that’s what inspired him to become
a painter. It wasn’t all happy trees and happy mountains,
though. When Ross wasn’t painting, he was filing,
spending most of his time in Alaska working as an Air Force medical records technician. He always spoke fondly of Alaska, even after
he left. He also had a sense of humor about the place
and the circumstances that brought him there, once saying, “My favorite uncle asked me if I wanted to
go there Uncle Sam. He said if you don’t go, you’re going to jail. That is how Uncle Sam asks you.” Despite his gentle reputation, Ross was known
to some by the nickname “Bust ’em up Bobby.” It turns out that while he was in the Air
Force he had a bit of a reputation as a person of temper. The Bob Ross most people know was famous for
his quiet, soothing tone, so it’s hard to imagine he could’ve ever raise his voice. But in one of the few interviews he gave over
the course of his career, he admitted that yelling had been a part of the job description. He explained, “I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine,
the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work. The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it. I promised myself that if I ever got away
from it, it wasn’t going to be that way anymore.” Ross remained in the Air Force for twenty
years and eventually reached the rank of master sergeant. And when he finally left the service he seems
to have kept his promise to himself. “Over and over again, I say, ‘We don’t make
mistakes. We have happy accidents.’ So today, let’s have a happy accident and
see what we can make out of it.” Ross wasn’t an artist when he got to Alaska. Most sources seem to agree that he got his
start at the Anchorage U.S.O. club, where he took an art class. He became hooked and eagerly sought out more
classes, but he disagreed with the teaching styles of a lot of his instructors. He told The New York Times in 1991, “The schools I went to, the professors were
mostly into abstract talking all about color theory and composition. They’d tell you what makes a tree, but they
wouldn’t tell you how to paint a tree.” Ross didn’t really hide his disdain for abstract
art and once even went so far as to diss Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism. As he put it, “If I paint something, I don’t want to have
to explain what it is.” Everything changed when Ross learned the “wet
on wet” method that he would later become famous for. He took one class and went crazy for it and
he soon knew that was what he wanted to do. After Ross learned to create a painting faster
than most people can get ready for work in the morning, he started to see the business
potential of his hobby. He once explained, “I developed ways of painting extremely fast. I used to go home at lunch and do a couple
while I had my sandwich. I’d take them back that afternoon and sell
them.” So evidently he was not just a prolific painter,
he was also a sales and marketing genius. At that point he realized that he could earn
more money as an artist than he did in the military, so off he went in pursuit of his
dream. He got in touch with an artist named Bill
Alexander, who hosted two PBS programs called The Magic of Oil Painting and The Art of Bill
Alexander. Ross studied under Alexander, then went on
to teach his technique to the PBS television audience, much to his former mentor’s chagrin. Alexander claimed that he invented wet-on-wet
and accused Ross of copying him. But those claims should be viewed quite skeptically,
as wet-on-wet has been around for centuries, almost as long as oil painting itself. Ross had a business partner named Annette
Kowalski, and he basically wooed her into betting her future on him. At the time just before they met, Kowalski
was grieving her oldest child, who had just been killed in a car crash. She was reportedly so devastated that all
she could do was lie on the couch and watch TV, including Bill Alexander’s painting show. Kowalski’s husband wanted to do something
to get his wife off the sofa and back to life, so he decided to sign her up for one of Alexander’s
in-person classes, which were 900 miles away from the couple’s home. But Alexander was no longer teaching them. Instead it was his protege, Bob Ross. At first, Kowalski was disappointed, but then,
she experienced what millions of PBS viewers have experienced. As she told NPR, she was mesmerized by Bob,
who somehow lifted her up out of her depression. “I was so mesmerized by Bob that I couldn’t
paint.” Kowalski became Ross’ manager, and it might
seem like everything was smooth sailing from here, but they initially struggled to gain
momentum. She bought newspaper ads and booked seminars
in shopping malls, but hardly anyone showed up. There was even an 800 number: 1-800-BOB-ROSS. It wasn’t until Ross filmed a TV commercial
that things really started to happen. The ad featured Bill Alexander handing Ross
a paintbrush, as a sort of symbolic passing of the torch. The pair took the spot to PBS, but only because
they wanted help getting it ready for the air. But when PBS saw it, they knew Kowalski was
on to something, and they signed Ross up to be their next on-screen art instructor. “I just think that Bob knew how to woo people. I said, ‘Let’s put it in a bottle and sell
it.'” Bob Ross paintings are really hard to come
by, even though he did 403 episodes of The Joy of Painting, which equals about 1,209
paintings, since he always did three versions for each show. Ross claimed he donated most of his show paintings
to PBS stations to help with fundraisers. Those pieces were auctioned off, so presumably
that means one thousand or so original Bob Ross paintings are hanging in homes and businesses
around the world. But Ross also claimed to have created roughly
30,000 paintings over the course of his lifetime, and no one really knows what became of the
rest of them. There are also some really unique Bob Ross
paintings that date to way, way back, to his life before the fame. While he was still living in Alaska, he used
to paint gold pans and sell them for extra cash. These pans still turn up occasionally. According to an NBC station in Fairbanks,
two of them were acquired by a local antiques store in 2018. The previous owner purchased the pans in 1971
for $25 apiece. Today they’re worth about $3,500, and they
were sold within one day. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
stuff are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
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42 thoughts on “Here’s The Truth About Bob Ross’ Life Before He Got Famous

  1. So a white man gets an afro from a perm ( out of convenience so he doesn't have to pay for haircuts ) and it's regarded as a"iconic look", Yet black people's hair grows this way from our heads naturally but it's regarded as "unkept" or "unprofessional" and "ghetto", when we wear our natural look.

    This proves that whatever racist stereotypes white people apply to black people, are lies to put our phenotype in a negative light.

    In the 70's black people wore afros to affirm ourselves as black and beautiful. White people saw this and still to this day, see this as, "militant".

    They can adopt our look and wear it like a costume but we can't be ourselves without them demonizing it.

    It's common for white women to get plastic surgery, fat injections into their lips, buttocks, hips and silicone breasts to have an afrocentric figure like black women. And yes, they even try to darken their skin via tanning beds, in an attempt to mimic the many shades of black people.

    So what it comes down to is that black features are fine, just as long as white people are showcasing them like a costume and not the people that have them naturally. This just reaffirms that white people don't have a culture or identity, hence the reason why they appropriate our culture and criticize it at the same time.

    They steal our music, our fashion, our look, our dialect and even our cuisine. Just look at all the fast food restaurants that consist of our cuisine, that came from black people that made a meal from all the scraps and animal parts that were thrown in the garbage, that had to be fished out by the house negress, cooking for the white slave owners.

    Macaroni and cheese, mashed potos, corn bread, fried chicken,, grits, I can go on and on….

    Kentucky fried chicken for instance, They changed the name of the cuisine from, "soul food" to "southern food" They're not fooling anyone! We all know that southern food is really soul food.

    Colonel Harland Sanders, the white man that started the kentucky fried chicken restaurant franchise, was only 1 of the many white people that stole black slaves recipes for their restaurant chains..

    White supremacy at it's finest! The question begs to be answered, where would white people be, if it weren't for African Americans?

    I'll answer it… AMERICA WOULDN'T BE, IF IT WEREN'T FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS! via our free labor of harvesting cotton and sugar canes!

    African Americans, wouldn't mind the many thefts of our culture, being it's left one of the greatest footprints on American culture. something we are very proud of to have had such contributions to American society but the fact that white people refuse to acknowledge and give credit to our contributions, makes it that much more egregious.

    White supremacy via racism, it's as American as apple pie!

  2. The military base near Fairbanks is Eielson AFB, BTW. I was also stationed there. Its actually closer to North Pole, AK, a real town.

  3. Love Bob Ross. I'd watch his show and was amazed how he painted so quickly. I bought a Bob Ross Funko POP! figure (the one with him holding his pallet).

  4. I bet after he died ,his paintings are probably auctioned or sent to Art museums!!!πŸ˜„β€πŸ‘

  5. Hahaha! My paintings, as a child, were a disaster trying to paint along with Bob Ross. A second hand store easel, a sturdy cardboard backing with white paper taped to it. My paint pallet was a square piece of plastic/cloth I made a thumb hole in. I had three school paints…good times!

  6. When I was younger my then wife's family watched Bob's show all the time, I had no interest in it though. fast forward some years later and I decide to start oil painting and after watching a few of Bob's shows, I regretted not watching them when the show was still on the air. I love the wet on wet technique and it's how I do most of my painting now. I think it is a sad testament to the "art" world that they look down their noses at Bob's work as being simplistic. I would rather look at 1,000 Bob Ross paintings than 1 Pollack painting!

  7. Bob Ross is amazing. Did you know that there is an official Twitch channel for Bob Ross? There are frequent marathon type streams of his old show πŸ™‚ You're welcome.

  8. Thanks for posting this video! I got a very nostalgic feeling throughout, remembering how many happy hours I spent in the '70s through the '90s, watching Bob create some really moody scenes, all the while talking in that soothing voice. I enjoyed his show a lot more than Alexander's, which is not to say anything derogatory about his mentor, just that his style of talking was so soothing and his paintings somehow more magical. I wonder if one of the 100+ cable channels I get is carrying his program, so I can wallow in nostalgia even more.

  9. Love me some Bob Ross.. discuss the show you the power of energy and attitude! That's one of the things you taught me, the painting was secondary

  10. So Bob Ross afro was one of his "happy little accidents" that he sorta regrets. Ha! Go figure. I don't care. It makes him stand out as an
    artist anyway. I can't see Bob Ross screaming and shouting at people. I used to watch his shows when I was a kid whenever there was nothing else on TV. The guy was a fucking icon.

  11. I DESPISE Bob Ross. The "happy little trees" thing was directly stolen from his mentor, artist Bill Alexander, who popularised the wet-on-wet technique. Alexander taught his method of painting to many in classes as well. Ross was his student. Watch Alexander on YouTube. Ross stole many of Alexander's catch phrases and just said them in that sleep inducing voice. That's Alexander's patented palette knife in Ross's hand as well. I watched Bill Alexander for years on PBS, and painted my own happy trees and majestic mountains. Imagine my shock when Bob Ross came on and people fell all over him, forgetting Alexander. This video seems to discount the lovable old Bavarian, and it is a damned shame.

  12. All of your videos are really good but this one about Bob Ross was outstanding.
    Thank you for your channel and for always entertaining us.

  13. Not shocking a white guy would be famous for a afro πŸ˜‚
    Black people can't have anything without other cultures stealing it πŸ€¦πŸΏβ€β™‚οΈ

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