The Timeline of Bob Ross’s Life
- 1942 Born in Daytona, Florida, USA.
- 1955 -1959 Fathers a child? There isn’t much-confirmed information on his first child from his teenage years.
- 1960 Becomes a US Medical Records Technician. Attends art class at the Anchorage U.S.O. club. Met Jane Lee Zanardelli, later his second wife, and co-founder of Bob Ross, Inc.
- 1966 Fathers Steve Ross with Vivian Ridge.
- 1977-1981 Divorces Steve Ross’s mother, Vivian Ridge. Works as a part-time bartender and discovered Bill Alexander and “wet-on-wet” oil paintings that could be created in 30 minutes. Studies painting with Bill Alexander, joins his company, and becomes a traveling salesman and art tutor. Officially retires as a US Master Sergeant.
- 1982 Meets Annette Kowalski in a 5-day art seminar, which was facilitated by ex-CIA Walt Kowalski. They help him to create his own company, Bob Ross Inc
- *The Kowalskis were the kind of people who recorded all of their telephone calls with a suction cup attached to the back of the telephone. (Netflix, 2021).
- 1983-1994 The Joy of Painting; Steve Ross becomes a certified Ross Instructor (CRI).
- 1985 Co-founded Bob Ross Inc with Walt and Anne Kowalski, and Jane Ross.
- 1990 Rights to company conflict begins between Bob Ross and the Kowalskis
- 1992 Jane Ross, his second wife, passes away from cancer
- 1993 Ross’s health starts to decline. Walt Kowalski allegedly sends documents claiming 100% ownership of Bob Ross, Inc, & 1% of revenue would go to Ross’s heirs for a decade. Ross never signs.
- 1994 He creates the Bob Ross Trust in 1994, assigns 51% of the interest in all intellectual property to his brother, Jimmie Cox, and 49% to his son, Steve Ross.
- 1995 Two months before his death, marries his nurse Lynda Brown to try to retain his name rights amidst the Kowalski’s frequent calls attempts to have Bob sign over his name and rights to his intellectual, physical, and company rights.
- 1995 Bob Ross dies from lymphoma as a life-long smoker. Kowalskis take over ownership of all rights to Bob Ross, Inc. by purchasing Bob’s third from the Ross estate.
- 1995 The Kowalskis allegedly didn’t attend the funeral and apparently attempted to keep Bob Ross’s funeral and death secret. Steve leaves and is unreachable.
- 1995 Months later, Walt and Annette Kowalski, as BRI, sue Jim Cox for all rights and sue Lynda Brown for access to all tape recordings and other data. Among other lawsuits, there is one against a children’s TV show, The Adventures of Elmer & Friends, over an episode in which Bob appears in a magic painting.
- 1997 Ross’s brother, Jimmy, settles the lawsuit with BRI and signs over all rights to his brother’s work and name for an undisclosed settlement. Kowalskis take over all operations of Bob Ross, Inc. #UncleJimmy.
- 2012 Walt and Annette Kowalski retire and Joan Kowalski takes over operations of Bob Ross, Inc.
- 2014 Bob Ross Inc goes viral after airing on Twitch.
- 2017 Steve Sues Bob Ross, Inc, loses, appeals, and settles.
- 2021 Netflix airs Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal, and Greed
- 2021 Anthony Breznican of Vanity Fair writes, Bob Ross Inc. Would Love It If You Stopped Hating Them
- Date this article was researched and written: June 16th, 2022.
“We got [criticism] mostly on social media and with a lot of emails and a lot of negative phone calls. Especially I’d say in the first week and a half. We were just slammed. Even at my home, at my parents’ home. Our email addresses and our faces were being posted all over social media.
Social media is not showing the love like we’re so used to, which is breaking our heart, because normally social media—we’ve got nothing but just gobs and gobs of love towards Bob. So, it’s slowed down a lot.
The sort of threatening of my family personally has slowed down a lot as well. In terms of our business partners, our corporate colleagues, that sort of thing, there’s been no real change [since the documentary came out.]”Joan Kowalski, A Vanity Fair Interview, 2021