Bob Ross' 'The Joy of Painting' gains new popularity during pandemic

Ross died in 1995 at 52.

July 09, 2020, 6:57 AM

Though he's been gone 25 years, the calming TV presence of Bob Ross and his show "The Joy of Painting" has seen a resurgence -- amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The show, famous for the painter's soothing voice and ability to whip up a masterpiece in every episode, has attracted a whole new generation of fans. Streaming service Tubi has picked up the former public television series -- and it's more popular than ever, Joan Kowalski, president of Bob Ross Inc., told ABC Audio.

PHOTO: TV painting instructor/artist Bob Ross paints one of his landscapes as his pet crow watches closely from its perch on top of easel in studio at home on July 16, 1991.
TV painting instructor/artist Bob Ross paints one of his landscapes as his pet crow watches closely from its perch on top of easel in studio at home on July 16, 1991.
Acey Harper/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

"It started about five years ago when there was an eight-day marathon on Twitch TV which brought out all the millennials ... Generation X, Y and Zs," Kowalski, whose parents discovered Ross and helped bring him to public TV in the '80s, said. "And then with the pandemic, we've gotten another surge with people staying at home and they remember how much they want to have Bob in their lives -- and they're painting, too!"

With COVID-19 lockdowns, "They are watching like crazy and they're starting to paint because it's a thing you can do by yourself," Kowalski added. "And just Bob's whole disposition, his whole personality, of course, obviously is just perfect. People are ... stressed out, and they're trying to figure out what to do while they're home. And that's just a recipe for Bob Ross right there."

Additionally, Ross' likeness can now be found on T-shirts, bobbleheads, and even a Funko Pop toy.

"He always sort of liked that whole concept when he was alive," Kowalski concluded. "[I]t's probably the one thing that he would have really loved a lot ... the merchandise and everything. Any collectible you want, there is a Bob Ross one, too, and it's taking off like crazy."

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