Here’s How Much Bob Ross Made From The Joy Of Painting

Bob Ross is one of America’s pantheon of extremely chill and beloved TV hosts, which is an exclusive club that consists of … uh, him and Mister Rogers, really. Ross achieved notoriety as the host of the PBS art show The Joy of Painting, where he created cool works of art in real time with his signature wet-on-wet painting technique and his famous, calm demeanor and soothing voice. Ross was a mesmerizing presence who called mistakes “happy accidents” and provided viewers with a comfortable oasis in the middle of their hectic life.

It’s pretty incredible, really, because Ross had every reason to be far less chill than he was. He started out as a pretty hardcore Air Force sergeant, and developed his calming presentation style because he was tired of yelling all the time. He originally styled his hair as an afro to save money, and found the hairstyle loathsome, but was stuck with it when it became an iconic part of his look. Oh, and for every painting he so smoothly whipped up in front of the camera, he actually painted two duplicates — one he did beforehand to use as a model, and another for close-ups. 

Still, surely, it was all worth it? After all, Ross spent years and years as one of the most famous PBS faces around, so at least The Joy of Painting must have made him a fortune. Right? 

Bob Ross was never paid for The Joy of Painting

Yeah, not so much. In fact, Ross never earned a single dime from The Joy of Painting. In a 1990 interview with the Orlando Sentinel (via Complex), the artist revealed that people commonly think that the show made him rich, but the reality of Public Broadcasting Service is very different. “People see you on television and they think you make the same amount of money that Clint Eastwood does,” he said. “But this is PBS. All these shows are done for free.” 

Don’t worry, though. It’s not like Ross painstakingly hosted 381 episodes of The Joy of Painting with zero income and lived in a dumpster between episodes. The show still did make him extremely famous, and Bob Ross-brand art supplies, books, videotapes and art lessons sold like hotcakes. In fact, Celebrity Net Worth estimates that at the time of his death in 1995, Ross was worth around $10 million.  

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