When we said he was nice, we fucking meant it. He was always smiling, always full of positive reinforcement for any viewers trying to paint along. His voice never rose above that of a gentle lullaby, everything he did on the show was for free, and he donated his art to various PBS stations that aired his show, in order to help raise funds. Oh, and he bottle-fed orphaned baby animals, on the air. The man was, for all intents and purposes, a saint.
As it turns out, there was a very good reason he was so mellow: He spent 20 years screaming his lungs out, as a first sergeant for the United States Air Force ... and hated it. He was said to be "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." That's right. The sweetest, kindest, most lovable character on TV this side of Mister Rogers spent half his life cosplaying as Sgt. Slaughter.
"And maybe down in these trees, Charlie is hiding out, ready to gut you like a carp."
No photos exist of Sgt. Ross back in those days, and the man 100 percent liked it that way. He had said that the reason he ultimately told the military to go screw off was because he was forced 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 anymore."