Bob Ross’ Hair Wasn’t Actually Curly, Reports Claim

Beloved painter Bob Ross got a perm so that he would be able to save money by not needing haircuts all the time.

A photo of Bob Ross hangs on the wall pof an art gallery.
Robin Marchant / Getty Images

Beloved painter Bob Ross got a perm so that he would be able to save money by not needing haircuts all the time.

Bob Ross is an iconic painter and television host who inspired young artists across the country. He was known not only for his talent as an artist, but for his calm, soothing voice. Ross passed away in 1995 from lymphoma at just 52-years-old. However, fans continue to enjoy his television program, The Joy of Painting, even now.

When fans picture Ross, they likely imagine him sitting before an easel, a paintbrush in one hand. In every episode, he also sported a large halo of curly hair that became one of his trademarks. But as it turns out, Ross wasn’t actually born with curly hair. The iconic hairstyle was the result of a perm he got with the intention of not needing to get so many haircuts, according to Today.

Ross’ instructional television show aired from 1983 to 1994 on PBS. Each episode was only 30 minutes long and could be viewed not only in the United States, but in Canada, Latin America, and Europe as well. The lighthearted painter would teach fans how to draw everything from birds to trees, in a simple, patient manner. He emphasized that those brush strokes that would be deemed by some as mistakes, could easily be transformed into something beautiful and that you really can’t mess up while creating art.

Ross’ hairstyle was certainly unique, just like he was. But his motivation for getting it will probably surprise you.

The painter’s longtime business partner, Annette Kowalski, recalls when Ross decided to get a perm many years ago. He was just starting out and didn’t have the extra money to spend on regular haircuts. He figured that if he got a perm, his hair would be low maintenance and he would no longer have to drop the extra cash on getting it cut. It worked out pretty well for him for awhile. That is, until he decided he was sick of it and wanted to go back to having straight hair.

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“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. He could never, ever, ever change his hair, and he was so mad about that. He got tired of that curly hair,” Kowalski said.

If you want to see what the beloved painter’s hair looked like prior to getting the infamous perm, there are quite a few old photographs of him online. His original hair was fairly short, swept neatly to the side.