How Did Bob Ross Die? The Tragic Early Death of the Painter and His Complicated Legacy
A soothing voice, contagious cheerfulness, and laid-back attitude with a signature perm is what most people remember when they hear about Bob Ross.
An epitome of a kind heart, Ross taught thousands of people to paint, or rather feel the joy of painting. With the sole intent of bringing happiness into people's lives through art, he often gave a gentle reminder to viewers — "you can do it."
Long before he became a master, the Florida native had embarked on the painting journey during his service in the air force. He had joined the military at 18 and found his solace in painting during rough times.
Playing with colors and bringing his imagination to life on paper calmed him down.
That being the case, he took his passion seriously and trained under a painter named William Alexander, learning his technique of applying oil paint layers without drying them.
Eventually, Ross mastered the wet-on-wet technique. He could create awe-inspiring landscapes within 30 minutes or less. That talent helped him secure the television show, Joy of Painting, on PBS after his 20-year service in the military.
Through the show, the master painter taught people worldwide to create happy clouds, mountains, and trees with his kind assurance — "We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents."
While he lived his life expounding feel-good philosophy, his ever-growing legacy is only extending, prompting his followers and fans to question, "how did Bob Ross die," and,
When Did Bob Ross Die?
Ross died at the age of 52, on July 4, 1995, in his home in Orlando, Florida. By accounts of his close ones, the television host knew he would die young.
He was an avid smoker for most of his adult life and had already survived two heart attacks and a cancer battle before his 40s. He, however, lost to his second cancer battle with lymphoma.
The once energetic painting guru started looking tired and frail in his television show. He eventually left the show, wrapping up his work in the Muncie, Indiana studio to return to his hometown, Orlando.
Ross took his last breath in his home, and, as per his request, his family members organized a simple funeral with only close friends and family in attendance.
Today, his gravestone lay decorated with paintings from visiting students in Woodland Memorial Park. In addition, a "television artist" is engraved in its epitaph.
About 'Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed'
Though Ross lived his life with positivity, he didn't get to live his last months in peace.
In the light of his deteriorating health, his business partners, Walt Kowalski and his wife, Annette Kowalski, demanded complete ownership of his then-15-million worth empire Bob Ross, Inc.
To prevent such a scenario from happening, Ross handed the right of his name over from Annette to his only son Steve Ross and married his third wife Lynda from his deathbed, giving her the right to inherit his property.
But after his death, the battle over his estate worsened, and the Kowalski family won the exclusive right to the property for being the force that introduced Ross to television.
Over the years, Steve has filed multiple cases against the surviving parties to reassert control of the estate but hasn't succeeded.
And focusing on the endless anger and never-ending financial battle created by Ross' legacy, filmmaker Joshua Rofé directed a documentary titled Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal, and Greed for Netflix.
The feature that started streaming on August 24, 2021, introduces Ross through a never-known perspective, focusing on his married life and bringing forward the accusations of bad behavior and disrespect.