Bob Ross, the world-famous painter of landscapes with happy clouds and fluffy trees, has always been a bit of an enigma. His simple method for painting, his business savvy as an art teacher and television host made him a legend.
The new documentary Bob Ross: Happy Accidents reveals that there’s more to this man than just “the happy trees“. “I would hope that people see this film and realize they don’t have to be stuck in a rut,” David Giancola, director of the documentary, told AJ+. “They can change their life. They can solve their problems.”
Bob Ross: Happy Accidents includes interviews with Bob’s former wife and business partner, Stan, as well as John Norman, author of the Bob Ross biography entitled The Legacy Of A Peacemaker.
The film explores Bob’s drug abuse and infidelity during his marriage to first wife, Jane, who died when he was in a terrible car accident that left him hospitalized for eleven months. Although we all have our demons, it’s hard to reconcile the sweet, grandfatherly image of Bob Ross with his dark past.
The film also reveals that Jane was actually diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 25 years old and had a major psychotic breakdown before she met Bob. The couple separated in 1973 but never divorced because they felt it would be bad for business, according to Giancola.
What Giancola would like to know is why Bob Ross became this legend, even after he was eventually fired from The Joy of Painting.
“I don’t get it,” Giancola added. “Bob Ross is adored and successful, yet he deceived his devoted followers by selling them overpriced painting materials. He was let go from The Joy of Painting for being too pricey, and he’s popular now because you can’t find anything comparable on TV.”
The audience is still conflicted about their feelings toward Bob. While not everyone loved him or his teachings, even the most vocal “haters” respected his talent and the joy he brought to others.