Bob Ross' patient teaching and "wet on wet" painting techniques helped introduce thousands of amateur painters to the art world. The "serious" art establishment might not have had much time for Ross—and the contempt was mutual—but even now, almost two decades after his death, Ross' iconic show The Joy of Painting still enjoys a large following in syndication. Let's take a look at five things you might not know about the man who brought us so many happy little trees.1. HE WAS A MILITARY MAN
Ross' quiet voice and gentle demeanor made him the perfect host for The Joy of Painting, but those traits might have kept him from being the perfect soldier. In fact, an early assignment to Alaska helped expose the Florida native to the snowy mountains and evergreens that would become staples of his art.
Viewers might find it surprising that the serene Ross was an Air Force sergeant, and it sounds like the painter thought it was a little odd himself. He later told the Orlando Sentinel, "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. The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it."
When Ross retired from the Air Force, he allegedly vowed never to scream again, a plan that seems to have worked perfectly.
2. HE WORKED FOR FREEThe Joy of Painting ran new seasons on PBS from 1983 to 1994, so even at public broadcasting rates the show must have made Ross quite a bit of loot, right? Not quite. Ross actually did the series for free; his income came from Bob Ross Inc. Ross' company sold art supplies and how-to videotapes, taught classes, and even had a troupe of traveling art instructors who roamed the world teaching painting. It's tough to think of a better advertisement for these products than Ross' show.
How did Ross find the time to tape all of those shows for free? He could record a season almost as fast as he could paint.
That's not to say there aren't any Ross paintings floating around, though. At the time, the amateur artist got $25 a pop for a gold pan with an Alaskan scene painted in the bottom. [See Also: What Happened to Bob Ross' Paintings?]
4. HE HAD A DR. DOOLITTLE STREAK
Before he ever picked up a paintbrush, Ross was an animal lover. Throughout his adult life, he maintained his soft spot for animals; his Florida home usually housed any number of critters that Ross was trying to help rehabilitate. At various times he played host to birds with broken wings, orphaned baby squirrels, and an epileptic squirrel that lived in his empty Jacuzzi.
Ross liked animals so much that he would tape squirrels in his backyard. During the early 1990s, Ross had hoped to develop a new non-painting show that would introduce children to a variety of new wildlife.
5. HE DIDN'T LOVE THE FRO
Google celebrated the 70th anniversary of his birthday with a Google Doodle on October 29, 2012. It portrayed Ross painting a depiction of the letter "g" with a landscape in the background
After studying with Bill Alexander, Ross discovered that he was soon able to earn more from selling his work than from his Air Force position. Ross then retired from the Air Force after 20 years of service with the rank of Master Sergeant  and became famous worldwide hosting the television program, The Joy of Painting, with the help of Annette & Walter Kowalski.
Before the show was launched, Bob would try to promote the painting technique but with little interest. He also had to find a way to cut back on spending, so he decided to have his hair permed, just so he could save money on haircuts. The perm hairstyle was not comfortable for Bob, but ultimately became an iconic feature of the painter