Bob Ross Without His Signature Perm Is Nothing Short of a Happy Little Accident

One picture paints a thousand words, as they say. Netflix has revealed a “shocking” throwback photo of Bob Ross before he got his famous perm.

By Lindsay Weinberg Aug 30, 2021 9:21 PMTags
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Bob Ross is known just as much for his striking hairdo as he is for his landscapes.

The artist taught viewers about the joy of painting until his death in 1995 (and in the years beyond, thanks to the lasting legacy of his PBS art show). Now, fans are discovering the joy of a good throwback photo in the new Netflix documentary about his life.  

In one blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, the filmmakers shared an old picture of Ross in a white T-shirt while sitting at a dinner table. But what stood out most was his slicked-back and cropped hairdo, so very different from the signature perm he sported on his TV show, which ran from 1983 to 1994.  

Netflix even admitted on Twitter that "seeing Bob Ross without his signature curls and beard is one of the most shocking moments" in the documentary, Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, which dropped on Aug. 25. 

Some users were clearly blown away, with one writing, "God he looks so much better without that fro." Another joked, "I refuse to believe this is the same person." 

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Ross, who was born in Florida in 1942, actually had naturally straight hair, according to his business partner Annette Kowalski. Five years ago, she told NPR that he decided to get a perm after spending 20 years in the Air Force.

"He got this bright idea that he could save money on haircuts. So he let his hair grow, he got a perm, and decided he would never need a haircut again," Kowalski shared.

She claimed Ross hated his poofy, retro look. "He could never, ever, ever change his hair, and he was so mad about that," Kowalski said. "He got tired of that curly hair."

Last week, the documentary gave fans a look into the darker side of his career. As the logline teased, "Bob Ross brought joy to millions as the world's most famous art instructor. But a battle for his business empire cast a shadow over his happy trees."

Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed is now streaming on Netflix. 

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