Ralph Adams, the youngest of 12 children, was born in Ross Fork, Montana, a stage coach stop where travelers were fed in the Grandma Adams’ home. Adams ended up in Santa Maria, California by way of Oregon in 1922.
Adams was an accomplished lapidary artist (making polished tables that remain pieces of art), and operated the Ralph Adams Photography Studio for 35 years, first on West Main Street in Santa Maria. He learned magic from the Tarbell Mail Order Course in Magic.
During the 1930s, while running his photography studio, he was also busy performing magic at local lodges. Eventually, his hobby became his profession.
After retiring from his photography business, he was able to devote more time to his magic acts. Adams made appearances on the television series Hollywood Planet and the Mike Douglas Show in the 1960s.
After he retired for good, he put on magic shows for 65 people at a time in the garage of their home in Orcutt. Admission for the children was a note from their parents saying that they were “good kids,” while parents needed similar notes from their children. On his 85th birthday, Adams was honored by Lance Burton and David Copperfield during their show in Las Vegas.
The City of Santa Maria, in recognizing the achievements of him and his wife, designated May 7, 1997 as "Ralph and Hilda Adams Day."