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A graduate of Princeton University, Ross began acting (in an uncredited role) in 1929's The Saturday Night Kid, starring Clara Bow and Jean Arthur, whom he married in 1932. He only appeared in two more films. He began working behind the screen at Hal Roach Studios. His first (associate) producing credit was for the 1939 version of Of Mice and Men. Other notable productions include the comedies The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) and The More the Merrier (1943), both starring his wife, and Biblical epics The Robe (1953) and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954).
Ross and Jean Arthur divorced in 1949. The following year, he married another actress, Joan Caulfield. She had large roles in two Ross-produced films, The Lady Says No (1952) and The Rains of Ranchipur (1955), and starred in her husband's TV series, the short-lived Sally and the more successful My Favorite Husband. The couple had one son before divorcing in 1960.
On February 8, 1990, Ross died at the age of 85 of complications arising from brain surgery. His two ex-wives would die within 24 hours of one another the following year.
Ross shared an honorary Academy Award for the short film The House I Live In, starring Frank Sinatra, and was nominated another three times: Best Picture for producing The Robe, and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and Best Story, both for The More the Merrier.