When it comes to one of the most renowned figures of the 20th Century, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) had no shortage of them with true blue-collar personalities. With the documentary and subsequent biopic of Fred Rogers starring Tom Hanks released, I think we're due to explore another PBS figure who brought pleasantness to the airwaves in Bob Ross, the host of The Joy of Painting.
Continued Cultural Relevance of Bob Ross
Why Ross? His stoic presence and calm demeanor have been a source of inspiration throughout all 31 seasons of The Joy of Painting. For 31 seasons stretching from January 1983 – May 17, 1994, the artist is known for the relaxing landscapes he paints on-air. He explained the purpose of each color and techniques he used so anyone can pick up a palette, a brush, and canvas to work and follow along. Of course, the million-dollar question is how someone can be molded to what he ended up being and what has his life in the Armed Forces taught him.
As we sit at our computers and swipe with our smartphones 25 years after Ross' passing, his work still lives on whether if it's those who went on successful artists from his influence or those who never intend to take up a brush, listening to his soothing voice as he lulls his admirers to sleep, or in memes and parody videos. In an age where we are surrounded by tentpole blockbusters or high-tension dramas, perhaps maybe we can dig deep down inside and learn from Ross' example. Upon leaving the Air Force in the early 80s, he swore that he'd never raise his voice again.
Born in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1942, Ross went into the military in 1961 after dropping out of high school at the age of 18. Following his 20-year service, he saw a TV show called The Magic of Oil Painting hosted by German painter Bill Alexander. Ross studied and mastered Alexander's wet-on-wet technique that allows him to paint on canvas within 30 minutes. When he made more from his paintings than his military salary, the painter retired as a Master Sergeant in 1981 and later adopted his signature perm. He started filming The Joy of Painting out of WIPB, a PBS station based out of Muncie, Indiana.
During the show's popularity, Ross was known to read every piece of fan mail and implement themes surrounding the subjects of his shows. In one episode, he even chose greyscale colors for a colorblind viewer. Who would you think can play Ross? Personally, my vote goes to Ryan Reynolds, who already parodied the painter as Deadpool with the fake afro and already has the pleasantness almost down to a tee. Given these tough times, we need a reminder of the positive figures we grew up with, and they need to be immortalized, and since people loved A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), I don't see why a Bob Ross biopic should be far behind. You can check out his show archive on YouTube.