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What was the cause of the death of the legendary painter?

By on August 26, 2021 0

If you are a fan of the legendary painter Bob Ross or have seen the new Netflix documentary Bob Ross: Happy accidents, betrayal and greed, you might be curious to learn more about the death of the artist who beamed with positivity and inspired so many to try their hand at painting.

The painter died on July 4, 1995, according to his obituary in the New York Times. He was 52 years old. As his son Robert Stephen “Steve” Ross explains in the documentary, his father died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

According to Steve, his father’s second wife, Jane L. Ross, had died of cancer shortly before Ross learned of his own diagnosis.

“Jane’s death really touched him. I remember he said, ‘My whole life went to hell in a hand basket,’ “his son Steve said in the doc.” Two or three weeks after Jane died, the doctors said that my father had non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “

Bob Ross pictured in Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed Courtesy of Netflix

According to the American Cancer Society website, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is “cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system.” It mainly affects adults, but can also occur in children, and usually starts in the lymph nodes, but can also affect the skin.

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Another artist and close friend of Ross, John Thamm, suspects that the paint thinner Ross used to create his specific painting style may have taken a toll on his health.

“This wet-on-wet technique requires a little paint thinner. Almost every episode he hit that brush, ”Thamm says in the documentary. “All the effervescence of paint thinner floated into his nostrils. Even while he was doing it, I had reservations about it. I always wondered if it had something to do with lymphoma. I’m not a doctor, but that’s speculation.

According to Times, the painter was born in Daytona Beach, Florida. His father was a carpenter and Ross began painting while in the Air Force. He studied with William Alexander, a fellow painter who had a show on public television before Ross started his own show. According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, Ross enlisted in the Air Force when he was just 18 years old.

In the documentary, Ross explains in a clip from an episode of The Joy of Painting that he lived in Alaska for 12 years, where he developed a love for the mountainous and tree-lined landscapes that feature prominently in his paintings. The Encyclopedia Brittanica also notes that Ross’s easel, palette, brushes he used on Joy of Paintings as well as two of his paintings were acquired by the Smithsonian in 2020 for display at the American History Museum in Washington, DC. DC

Bob Ross: happy accidents, betrayal and greed is now streaming on Netflix. Main Image: Bob Ross pictured in the documentary, courtesy of Netflix.


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