Things Netflix's Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed Didn't Tell You

"Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed" dropped on Netflix on Wednesday, August 25, and thanks to the hype surrounding the documentary, fans all over the world who either grew up watching "The Joy of Painting" on PBS or first heard of the genial painter/art instructor as a posthumous internet celebrity were talking about his legacy and speculating on what could be discussed in the film. Although publications such as The Hollywood Reporter gave "Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed" lukewarm reviews for not being "provocative" enough, the documentary was fairly thorough in covering Ross' rise to fame, his genuine nice-guy reputation, and the drama he dealt with behind the scenes, primarily with business partners Walt and Annette Kowalski.

Through interviews with family members (Ross' son Steve and first wife Vicky) and friends (fellow painters Dana Jester, John Thamm, and Gary and Kathwren Jenkins, among others), viewers got to learn quite a lot about a man whose life was more complicated than most may have imagined. However, one can only cover so much ground in a 90-minute documentary, and that isn't even mentioning the fact that several people close to Ross declined to be interviewed due to fear of legal action from the Kowalskis. That all means there were certain details about Ross' life that were left out or weren't touched on by the many talking heads who appeared on "Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed."

Ross was a tough taskmaster as an Air Force sergeant

The Bob Ross we knew from "The Joy of Painting" was the exact antithesis of someone like, say, R. Lee Ermey's Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from "Full Metal Jacket." Indeed, it's hard to imagine Ross screaming "what is your major malfunction?" at a lowly recruit who refuses to follow orders. But that's a pretty good way to imagine how Ross was as an Air Force officer. "Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed" did touch on the iconic painter's military career, but one specific thing that wasn't discussed was how the short-haired Air Force first sergeant version of Ross was drastically different from the big-haired, gentle version people got to see on PBS.

"I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work," Ross told the Orlando Sentinel in 1990. "The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it. I promised myself that if I ever got away from it, it wasn't going to be that way any more."

Clearly, barking orders and insults at airmen was not how Ross wanted to be remembered. It didn't jibe with his personality one bit, and once he got out of the military in the early '80s, he was free to paint all the happy little trees he wanted. Thank goodness.

Steve Ross isn't Bob Ross' only child

Most "The Joy of Painting" fans are probably familiar with Bob Ross' son, Steve Ross, who was interviewed at length for "Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed." Steve regularly made appearances on "The Joy of Painting," where his dad would often describe him as a great painter in his own right and offer words of encouragement as he showed off his talent on television.

On the Netflix documentary, there was no mention of the elder Ross having any other children aside from Steve. However, The Daily Beast notes that when Ross was a teenager, he fathered his first child. Details on Steve's older half-sibling are scant, but someone claiming to be Ross' first wife, Vicky, took to the comments section of an article from Today I Found Out, claiming that in 1961, the would-be art instructor and his high school sweetheart had a baby whom they named Bobby. (Interesting choice of name, as Steve's complete name is Robert Stephen Ross.) The post went on to claim that Bobby now goes by a different last name, as he was adopted by Ross' ex-flame and her first husband.

In addition, Ross apparently had a stepson, Morgan, from his second wife, Jane. Likewise, very little is known about Morgan Ross, who, just like Bobby, was not interviewed for "Happy Accidents."

He survived multiple health scares before his death in 1995

"Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed" covers the painter's final years in detail, including the death of his wife Jane from cancer in 1992, as well as Ross' own lymphoma diagnosis, which came just weeks later, according to his son Steve. We get to see family and friends talk about how Ross wanted the proverbial show to go on for as long as it could — even as he was getting progressively sicker, he was still able to make an appearance on the children's show "The Adventures of Elmer and Friends" in early 1995. However, it isn't mentioned that he dealt with some serious health issues well before he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in the early '90s.

According to The Daily Beast, Ross apparently had a lingering feeling that he was going to die young. A regular cigarette smoker, Ross suffered a heart attack in the mid-1980s. He had also survived cancer previously, though the second diagnosis proved to be fatal for the beloved painter, who died on July 4, 1995. Allegedly, this didn't deter business partners Walt and Annette Kowalski, the former of whom sent Ross a six-page contract that sought control over his name and brand. (Steve Ross references this in the documentary, suggesting that the papers were presented while his father was on his deathbed.) The Daily Beast described the contract as a piece of literature that was "full of legalese and posturing," a document that was "for all intents and purposes, a declaration of war."

The Kowalskis' daughter helped introduce Bob Ross to the social media generation

Throughout "Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed," Annette and Walt Kowalski are almost unambiguously portrayed as the bad guys. As alleged by several talking heads in the Netflix documentary, the couple didn't care as much for Ross as a person and a painter as they did about the bottom line. They were also accused of stealing ideas from other artists, specifically flower painters Gary and Kathwren Jenkins. But the film doesn't bring up how Walt and Annette's daughter Joan, who runs Bob Ross Inc., was greatly instrumental in introducing Ross to younger fans via social media. (Former NBA player J.R. Smith, pictured above, is a classic example of how the painter's legacy lives on, even for those who weren't born yet when "The Joy of Painting" debuted.)

According to The Washington Post, Joan Kowalski was partly responsible for orchestrating the "Joy of Painting" marathon that streamed on gaming platform Twitch back in 2015; this was part of her plan to "inject some youth" into what the publication described as Ross' "aging" fan base. The marathon went viral, attracting close to 6 million viewers, many of whom were either fascinated by Ross' signature perm or calmed by his soothing voice. Furthermore, the younger Kowalski was credited for how Ross' official YouTube channel and Instagram account both became big hits with social media users.

As it's been 26 years since Ross died, we don't know how he would have felt about having such a large following on social media. But we do know Steve Ross wasn't happy about all the Ross merchandise floating around (as featured in "Happy Accidents"), remarking that the Kowalskis only "care about control" and "want to own the whole dang kit and caboodle."