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  • Tresten Yokotake

Review: 'Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed'


Bob Ross inspired & brought joy to millions of people through painting. But in the documentary Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, it dives deeper into his life and the drama that unfolded behind the scenes with his business partners Anette & Walt Kowalski. This documentary was directed by Joshua Rofe and released in 2021 on Netflix.


This documentary will make you feel a rollercoaster of emotions. One moment you’ll feel happy, then angry, and then sad. Rinse and repeat. The reason for this is because of what the Kowalskis did to Ross. The Kowalskis prioritized making a profit no matter the lengths they had to go for it, while Ross was focused on painting and bringing joy to others. Even on Ross’s deathbed, Anette Kowalski tried to get him to sign over the rights to his name to them for commercialization purposes.


Not a lot of Ross's friends wanted to participate in the documentary out of fear of being sued by the Kowalskis. Only Bob's son Steve, his friend John Thamm, and a few others partook in the making of this documentary.


The film also discusses the painter that influenced Bob Ross, William Bill Alexander. Alexander was Ross’s mentor and taught him how to paint a picture in 30 minutes. Alexander used a painting technique called wet on wet (alla prima), which Bob also used. This technique requires the person to apply a new layer of oil paint on top of a still-wet layer rather than waiting for a layer to dry before applying the next.


Another personal highlight of the film was hearing Ross’s silky smooth voice. I was surprised to learn that the reason he spoke that way on camera was because he wanted to appeal to his viewers who were mainly women.


The documentary did a stellar job of accurately portraying his life and there were no biases in the story. Overall, this movie was a 10/10 for me. If you are a Bob Ross fan, then this documentary is for you.

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