Ralph Crosby Smith

Ralph Crosby Smith was born on September 8, 1907 to Henry Martin Smith and Floy Crosby in Sacramento, California, where he grew up with four brothers.

Smith graduated Sacramento High School in 1925 and continued his education at the University of California. Here, he became involved with the Delta Epsilon Art Honor Society and contributed drawings to The Daily Californian, a student newspaper in circulation at UC.

When he was 22 years old, Smith graduated and moved to Wilmington, Delaware where he began training at the Wilmington Academy of Art.

Under the guidance of Gayle Hoskins, one of the founders of the school and a former student of Howard Pyle, Smith honed his skills as an artist.

Upon completion of his graduate art training in 1933, he moved to New Jersey to be better situated to pursue work as a freelance illustrator with publishers in New York City. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s Smith freelance illustrated for numerous pulp magazines, including Western Story, Wild West, Romantic Range, Short Stories and Western Adventure. During World War II, he gained commissions from publisher Grosset & Dunlap to illustrate books, including the Red Randall series, the Cherry Ames series, along with many more.

Following WWII Smith moved to Westport, Connecticut with his wife, Viretta ("Vire" Hoskins, niece of his former teacher Gayle Hoskins) and their two sons, Gayle (b. 1932) and Glen (b. 1936). Here, he became more involved with outdoor activates and the Boy Scouts, leading him to illustrate a number of BSA publications. During the 1950’s, Smith also received several commissions from Outdoor Life, a popular hunting and fishing lifestyle magazine, for covers featuring scenes of fishing, camping, hunting and safari, as well as for interior stories. As a result, Smith received a commission from Brown and Bigelow in 1953 to illustrate their similarly themed calendar series, which he successfully continued to do annually until 1961.

In 1959, Smith was admitted to Fairfield State Mental Hospital, Newtown, Connecticut where he died 3 years later in April 1962 at 54 years old.