Born and raised in New York City to Jewish family, Ross graduated from City College of New York City in 1939. Ross then served as a bomber pilot in United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Ross, along with longtime business partner Bernie West, made his mark in the 1970s with the breakout TV sitcom, "All in the Family," for which he won a writing Emmy in 1973.
After partnering on such earlier shows as The Garry Moore Show and The Martha Raye Show, Ross went on to scribe and serve as exec producer for Family spin-off The Jeffersons, about an African-American family living on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Ross later established the Michael and Irene Ross Chair in Hebrew and Yiddish and the Michael and Irene Ross Program in Jewish Studies at the City University of New York in New York City.
He also made a $3 million bequest and 25% share of his rights to all his shows to the National Yiddish Book Center.
Ross died May 26, 2009 due to complications following stroke nd myocardial infarction