Have you watched The Joy of Painting? Yep, it's the same show that aired on PBS from 1983 to 1994, featuring legendary painter Bob Ross who created mesmerizing portraits in just 30 minutes, live!
If you've seen Ross in action, you might remember him as a happy-go-lucky man who loved painting and was ready to do anything to share his talent with the world. But did you know that his life wasn't as joyful as it seemed on-screen? According to the Netflix documentary Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, the man faced a lot of struggles in his personal life.
A deeper dive into Boss Ross documentary
Directed by Joshua Rofé and produced by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, Ross' documentary gives insight into his life's journey. It describes how the painter discovered his love for painting, how he worked his way to the show, his battle with cancer, and his bitter relationship with his business associates, Annette and Walt Kowalski. It also sheds light on his last wish to see his son, Robert Stephen Ross aka Steve Ross, continue as his successor.
When Architectural Digest approached Joshua Rofé for a conversation, he revealed some shocking facts about Boss Ross’ life.
The shocking interview
During the interview, Rofé described a scene from the documentary where Ross' son gets emotional over his passing. It’s an ordinary scene where Steve sits at the kitchen table and talks about how his dad's life came to an end.
Rofé said that while it was supposed to be a regular filming scene, as soon as 55-year-old Steve Ross started speaking about the moment, tears started rolling down his cheeks. It was heartbreaking to see a grown man remembering his late father with such longing. Even though Boss Ross passed away more than two decades ago, it was as if Steve's wounds were still fresh.
The 38-year-old director claimed that many people close to the late painter were hesitant to appear on camera. They feared if they spoke about it, the Kowalskis (owners of Bob Ross Inc., who refused to be interviewed) would come after them. Rofé expressed he wasn't surprised by the notion. He would have loved to know the Kowalskis' side of the story, but looking at the way they always stayed silent about Ross, Rofé knew they wouldn’t accept his proposal.
A peek into the documentary
Spilling a few more beans, Rofé continued that the documentary will strengthen the bond between the painter and his fans. It will tell his story in a way nobody would have ever thought of before. Not only will it touch on the beautiful moments, but also highlight the hardships Ross faced during his lifetime. Most importantly, it will show how a person's legacy is shaped by who gets control of it.
Though in Ross' case, we’ll never really know what he did and didn't want, we’ll be able to understand his personality and relate to it in a better way.