Bob Ross' Former Partners: Who Are Annette And Walt Kowalski?

Bob Ross dabbled in painting during his time in the Air Force, and after transitioning to civilian life, he was able to concentrate on his passion for art. Bill Alexander, a German painter who had a show on PBS titled "The Magic of Oil Painting," served as Ross' mentor and taught him techniques and how to create paintings in a short time (via Artsy).

Meanwhile, Annette Kowalski was grieving the death of her son in a car accident. As someone who loved painting, Annette spent days watching Bill Alexander's show. Her husband, Walt, thought of a way to get his wife out of the house and signed her up for painting lessons with Bill Alexander. By that time, however, Bill wasn't teaching anymore and was replaced by Bob Ross. The Kowalskis didn't know who Ross was, but still decided to push through with a week-long painting course in Florida, as reported by CBC.

Although Annette didn't get to learn from Bill Alexander, she surprisingly took a liking to Bob Ross. "I was so mesmerized by Bob. Somehow, he lifted me up out of that depression. I just think that Bob knew how to woo people," Annette said, per NPR.

The Joy of Painting and other ventures

Annette Kowalski saw something special in Bob Ross, and she felt that they could do something good together with his skills. The Kowalskis talked to Ross and by the end of the painting course, Annette was Bob's manager. The idea was to advertise Bob Ross painting courses, and while filming a commercial at the PBS station, Bob was offered a TV series, according to CBC. The first episode of "The Joy of Painting" aired in 1983 and lasted until 1994, just a year before Bob Ross' death due to lymphoma complications.

Bob Ross' career took off after appearing on TV. Bob Ross Inc. was established, and Walt and Annette Kowalski became Ross' business partners. The company released a variety of art supplies, including paints, brushes, and easels. According to NPR, the Kowalskis took over the company after Ross' death in 1995. Eventually, the company was passed down to the Kowalskis' daughter.