Bob Ross is best known for his calming television program “The Joy of Painting,” where he would spend 26 minutes talking through each step of his paintings in a soothing tone. He loved to encourage people to paint with such inspirational thoughts as “You can do it. There’s no big secret to it. All you need is a dream in your heart.”
Ross’ show aired on PBS from 1983 until 1994, when Ross was diagnosed with lymphoma. He died in 1995 at the young age of 52, but his legacy lives on in his happy little trees. Here are 10 happy little facts to know about Ross.
1. He was a drill sergeant
Known for being soft-spoken on air, Ross said he had spent so much time yelling as a drill sergeant that he had gotten it all out of his system.
2. He learned to paint by watching another painters television show.
Ross was in a tavern in Alaska when he saw William Alexander’s program for first time. He continued to watch and gave Alexander full credit for teaching him to paint.
3. Many of Ross’s paintings were donated to PBS
At the end of each show Ross would have a masterpiece. He donated many of them to be auctioned off for donor drives and fundraisers for PBS.
4. Ross was missing a finger
Due to a childhood woodworking accident, Ross lost a finger. Not many notice the missing digit because he always held his palette with the hand that was missing the finger.
5. His iconic hair was not a style choice
Originally Ross had permed his hair in an effort to save money on haircuts. By the time he could afford as many cuts as he would like the perm had already become part of his image and thus had to stay.
6. 90% of viewers do NOT paint during the show
Anyone watching the show has wondered “Is anyone actually painting this with him?.” Well the answer is not many but some. Although the show delivers step by step instructions it is rare that viewers actually took the steps to create their own masterpiece. Most simply enjoyed the pleasure of watching him paint.
7. He once did an entire painting in grey for a color-blind man
He actually combined brown, blues and white to make all the different shades of grey but the final result was a grey painting. Ross chose to do this show after meeting a man who said he could never paint because he was color blind. As we all know Ross truly believed “anyone can paint” and he created this episode to prove it.
8. The image lives on
From t-shirts with his images and quotes on them, to Lego figures and Halloween costumes, more than 20 years after his death Ross continues to inspire.
9. Ross was social media savvy before anyone even knew what it meant
Ross encouraged audience involvement by having them send in ideas about what things he should paint. He also had them send in photos of their paintings they had created while watching the program.
10. Ross is still a media sensation
A quick search on Instagram, twitter, or tumblr will give you all the the Bob Ross you can handle. You can even spend the weekend binge watching his show “Beauty is Everywhere” which is now available on Netflix.