The late Bob Ross was a national treasure that introduced millions of people to The Joy of Painting with his popular art instruction show on PBS. The show ran in the United States, Canada, and Europe from 1983 until 1994, and today it lives on in reruns. Ross was known for his unnaturally sunny disposition, his perfect afro, and his penchant for painting dynamic nature scenes, but there are things that his fans never knew just from watching the show.
In a 1990 interview with Orlando Sentinel, Ross revealed that he never got paid for the show. "People see you on television and they think you make the same amount of money that Clint Eastwood does. But this is PBS. All these shows are done for free." The way he made his fortune was through his art corporation, which produced lots of how-to books, over 100 videotapes, Bob Ross-branded art materials, and a small army of around 150 art teachers around the world.
The interview also revealed that Ross, the man known for painting "happy little clouds," was also a drill sergeant in the United States Air Force, he was a bit of a recluse, and he converted his backyard into an animal rehab center, with baby squirrels, a fox squirrel and a crow with a broken wing. "I don't use the pool, but it sure makes a nice view for them," said Ross, who also kept the epileptic squirrel in his Jacuzzi.
For a man who made a living teaching art to amateurs, Ross embraced the fact that most people who watched his show were more interested in him than his art. "The majority of our audience does not paint, has no desire to paint, will never paint. They watch it strictly for entertainment value or for relaxation...we've gotten letters from people who say they sleep better when the show is on."
[via Mental Floss]