5 Things You Didn’t Know About Bob Ross

1. Military Career In The Air Force

Ross enlisted in the United States Air Force at 18 years old and served as a medical records technician.He eventually rose to the rank of master sergeant and served as the first sergeant of the U.S. Air Force Clinic at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, where he first saw the snow and mountains that later became recurring themes in his artwork. He developed his quick-painting technique to create art for sale during brief daily work breaks.

Having held military positions that required him to be, in his own words, “tough” and “mean”, “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”, Ross decided that if he ever left the military, he would never scream again.

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2. Straight Hair And His Afro

While Bob Ross was very well known for his friendly and calm persona his most striking feature had to be his hair. But fact is, Bob had naturally straight hair and only got it permed to save money. Rumour has it that he even hated his ‘fro but had to keep it because it had become his trademark.

“He got this bright idea that he could save money on haircuts,” his longtime business partner Annette Kowalski told NPR. “So he let his hair grow, he got a perm, and decided he would never need a haircut again.”

3. Third time’s a charm

While Bob made it seem that the paintings he did during the tapings of ‘The Joy of Painting’ were done very spontaneous and full of ‘happy little accidents’ this was in fact not the case. In reality Bob painted the same picture three times:

The first copy always hid off screen, and Bob referred to it while the cameras rolled. He painted a third copy when filming finished. This time, an assistant would stand behind him and snap photos of each brushstroke. These pictures went into Bob’ “How to” books.

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4. Bob the Celebrity

After the success of ‘The Joy of Painting’ Bob had a number of appearances on nationally televised talk shows and was also regularly being spoofed on MTV and HBO. This trend continues until today.

While there is a story that Bob was once invited to the Oprah Winfrey show that we couldn’t verify, Bob was invited onstage  at the Grand Ole Opry in 1987 by country star Hank Snow. Bob being an old country fan accepted the invitation and gave Hank a private lesson afterwards.

5. He Did It For Free

Bob Ross never recieved a penny for his television show ‘The Joy of Painting’. However, Bob was a smart businessman and used the show as an advertisement for his own line of painting supplies. And boy, did he make a happy buck with it!

His company Bob Ross Inc. went on to become a $15 million empire of how-to books, videos and, most of all, Bob Ross art supplies.

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Guest Painters on ‘The Joy of Painting’

Bob often invited friends to paint with him on his TV show ‘The Joy of Painting’. These guests feature people like Dana Jester, John Thamm, Ben Stahl, Audrey Golden, Joyce Ortner, Dorothy Dent, Diane Andre and more.

 

Dana Jester is an old friend of Bob, who continues painting and making videos about it to this day. Check out this video of him painting some big ol’ mountains:

 

Another interesting guest is Bob’s old instructor John Thamm, who shows us how to paint a portrait in season 16 episode 6. While John’s style of painting might be very different from Bob’s style they sure can tell us a lot of stories from back in the day.

 

 

One of the most frequent guests and our absolute favorite is his son Steve Ross. And not we love him, it seems like Tumblr has grown a very special relationship to the young man:

 

You can find a list of all appearances of guest painters under this link.

Why Does Bob Ross Have A Coke Nail?

UrbanDictionary.com defines a coke nail as “one significantly longer fingernail on one or both hand(s), most often the pinkie nail, which is used for scooping up powder cocaine and snorting it. This is known as doing a bump. The nail becomes the vessel as opposed to needing an item to snort a line of coke through; ie, a straw, rolled up dollar bill, etc.”.
And if you look closely and watch carefully you might just notice the same thing on the hands of Bob Ross. An example can be see on the picture of Bob and a baby raccoon below.

But why? Did Bob Ross do cocaine?

While the average person most likely does not even know about the existence of these nails and their use the coke nail got a bit of exposure in 2012 when several online news outlets claimed to have found a picture of actress Carrie Fisher, best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, featuring an alleged nail for sniffing cocaine.

After reading about this theory on the internet Carrie Fisher herself however denied the “coke nail” on Twitter with this tongue-in-cheek comment:

This still leaves us with our question. Why did Bob Ross have fingernails that strongly resemble coke nails?

The answer is found in Bob’s profession and passion: Painting.

Bob Ross was in fact not doing cocaine. A lot of painters use their nails to scrape off excess paint from their paintings. Using your nails is faster and more handy (excuse the pun) than using a tool for this, and for a serious painter like Bob Ross there is no question that he used this old trick too. See how close the nail is to the painting below? Using it instead of going of and grabbing another tools is certainly a lot faster in case you make a mistake.

Happy Painting, and God bless my Friend.