Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed

Checking in on Netflix tonight to see if they had anything new thins week turned out to be a happy, little accident. There was a documentary of EYG Hall of Famer, painter Bob Ross. I’ve always liked Bob Ross so I thought this was a neat documentary to watch tonight. Little did I know that there would be such a darkness found within the story of one of the most gentle and caring souls.

Bob Ross spent many years teaching, inspiring the world to paint. He painted on PBS’s classic show Joy of Painting and he became an icon with a giant afro.

Ross’s son Steven spends a good amount of time being interviewed about his father’s life, but the documentary takes a turn after Bob discovered he had cancer. The time after Bob Ross’s death made for a true sad tale.

Our documentary sets up some villains to the story, the Kowalskis, Annette and Walt. In a way, the doc made me think about The Tiger King in the way it showed Carol Baskins as such a potentially horrible person. Annette Kowalski was Bob Ross’s long time partner in his business, but after Bob’s death, there was a major legal battle over the Bob Ross name, I.P., and rights to his programs with the Kowalskis’ company, Bob Ross, Inc doing most of the suing.

It’s such a sad story considering what a wonderful and kind-hearted man Bob Ross was. The first half of the documentary focused on Bob’s background and his life story, especially his love of painting and how he wound up being world renowned with his happy little trees. The first sign of trouble in the doc was went it was suggested that Bob and Annette Kowalski had had an affair, something that Annette has refuted.

The documentary made it clear to the viewers that several people that had been lined up to be interviewed for the film had changed their minds in fear of being sued by the Kowalskis.

This is a decent documentary and any fan of Bob Ross should seek it out on Netflix. Reportedly, there had been several challenges to releasing the documentary. It is worth watching.

3.9 stars

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