Ivan Kragoff (Иван Крагофф), a scientist working for the Soviet government, had distinguished himself among party leaders with his advanced theories on cosmic radiation and its mutagenic effects. These theories were based in large part upon his observation and study from afar of America’s Fantastic Four, who had gained their superhuman powers from exposure to cosmic rays. Kragoff calculated that the circumstances that caused the high radiation levels that gave the Fantastic Four their superhuman powers were about to be repeated. He proposed to party leaders that he and a team of trained simians be sent in a spaceship into Earth orbit to be exposed to cosmic radiation in the hopes that they too would develop superhuman abilities.
Unknown to Soviet officials, however, Kragoff timed his launch to coincide with a mission that the Fantastic Four’s leader Reed Richards, alias Mister Fantastic, had planned to the mysterious Blue Area of the Moon. Kragoff intended to journey there himself and use whatever superhuman powers he might develop to defeat the American scientist, whom he fiercely envied.
Kragoff launched his spaceship, and during a cosmic ray storm he gained the ability to make himself intangible at will. His three trained simians, a gorilla, an orangutan, and a baboon, gained super simian abilities at the same time. Kragoff dubbed himself the Red Ghost.
Both the Fantastic Four and the Red Ghost’s group landed on the Blue Area of the Moon, which proved to be an ancient blue city constructed by the alien Kree. The Red Ghost and his simians attacked the Thing, but the battle was halted by Uatu, a member of the race of Watchers, who had made his base in the Blue Area The Watcher decreed there be a battle between the Fantastic Four and the Red Ghost and his simians. Mister Fantastic defeated the Red Ghost, and the Watcher, impressed with the Fantastic Four, gave them his blessings.
Sometime later, the Red Ghost forced the Fantastic Four to return to the moon for a rematch. He was again defeated at the site of the Blue Area, and at the end of the battle, fell into a matter transporter belonging to the Watcher. This device teleported Kragoff back to the Soviet Union. Next, the Red Ghost made an alliance with the Mole Man against the Avengers.
The Red Ghost somehow recovered his simians, and was among the many costumed menaces assembled by Doctor Doom to disrupt the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm. Kragoff and the simians were teleported to another dimension by Doctor Strange. Soviet authorities again impounded the simians. Kragoff escaped imprisonment, but he was erroneously informed that the simians had been killed.
Somehow the Red Ghost discovered that his original Super-Apes were still alive and recovered them. He experimented with a cosmic-ray intensifier to attempt to increase his own superhuman powers but instead unintentionally caused himself to be unable to leave a state of intangibility. He had his super-simians kidnap Anthony Stark and forced him to build a "cosmitronic cannon" and return him to a tangible state. But when next Kragoff became intangible, his atoms began to disperse as a side effect of his treatment with the cannon. Kragoff's consciousness managed to force his atoms to remain together, although his body remained in an intangible and, at times, invisible state.
Months later, Mister Fantastic went into space to expose himself to cosmic radiation to revitalize his own powers. Unknown to Richards, Kragoff, still intangible, was also aboard the spaceship. Kragoff used his invisibility to hide from Richards for days until he was able to immerse himself into cosmic radiation. The radiation restored his powers to what they originally had been. The Red Ghost could again become invisible or visible and tangible or intangible at will. He even gained the power to make other objects in his vicinity intangible.
The Red Ghost again regained his Super-Apes and subsequently clashed twice with Spider-Man and with Black Panther and the X-Men.