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CBS Sunday Morning Will Spotlight Bob Ross

Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting” was broadcast on PBS stations around the country during 1980s and ‘90s.

CBS Sunday Morning Will Spotlight Bob Ross

Nearly three decades after his death, painter and TV personality Bob Ross is more popular than ever, drawing the attention of millions of homebound Americans, major corporations and celebrity fans like the Kardashian family, as people turn to the arts for comfort during the pandemic. Lee Cowan reports on what makes Ross relevant again for CBS SUNDAY MORNING to be broadcast Sunday, Feb. 28 (9:00 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network.

Bob Ross's "The Joy of Painting" was broadcast on PBS stations around the country during 1980s and '90s. But, at the height of his fame - at only 52 - Ross died of lymphoma. Yet, as Americans have battled the pandemic, Ross's positivity and calm demeanor has made him hugely popular again.

"We've been in a time when things have been so frantic, and people have been so stressed, and Bob Ross is the 'King of Chill,'" says Jessica Jenkins, the curator of the "Bob Ross Experience," at Muncie, Indiana's Minnetrista museum.

Back in the 1970s, Ross was an unknown painter who took the idea for an instructional painting TV program to the local station in Muncie.

"They did not know who he was, but he had a lot of charm," Jenkins says.

Ross taped his show in a Muncie home, not a studio, and practiced the paintings over and over until he could complete one for TV in less than 30 minutes. His show became a national phenomenon.

"His mantra was, I'll never do anything harder than my audience is also able to do," says Jim Needham, who was then the general manager of WIPB-TV, which aired Ross' show.

Today, his books and art supplies are best sellers. There's even Bob Ross socks, waffle makers and Chia pets. The Bob Ross YouTube channel has 4 million subscribers. His work is part of the Smithsonian's permanent collection.

"His message is timeless. The message of having self-confidence, of trying new things - that doesn't get old," says Jenkins. "And because of that, I think that it just continues to resonate for generation after generation ... Even though Bob's not here, he's still been able to put that idea in someone's head."

CBS SUNDAY MORNING is broadcast Sundays (9:00-10:30 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Rand Morrison is the executive producer.

Follow CBS SUNDAY MORNING on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and CBSNews.com. Listen to CBS SUNDAY MORNING podcasts on all podcast platforms.


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