Kendell Foster Crossen was born in Albany, Ohio (outside Athens), the only child of farmers Sam Crossen and Chlo Foster Crossen. He attended Rio Grande College in Ohio where he played football. He was an amateur boxer and worked at jobs ranging from carnival barker to insurance investigator. In the 1930s he was employed as a writer on Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects, including a New York City Guidebook, before becoming editor of Detective Fiction Weekly.
In the 1940s he wrote pulp detective fiction and novels under his own name as well as the pseudonyms Richard Foster, M. E. Chaber, Christopher Monig, Clay Richards, Bennett Barley, and others. He originated the pulp and comic book character the Green Lama, a crime-fighting Buddhist superhero whose powers emerged upon the recitation of the Tibetan mantra "om mani padme hum." He wrote hundreds of radio scripts for Suspense, The Saint, Mystery Theater, and others. His later television credits include 77 Sunset Strip, The Man from Blackhawk, Man and the Challenge, and Perry Mason.
In the 1950s Crossen began writing science fiction for publications such as Thrilling Wonder Stories, including the humorous Manning Draco stories about an intergalactic insurance investigator (four of which are featured in the book Once Upon a Star, 1953). His novels in the genre are Murder Out of Mind (1945), Year of Consent (1954), dealing with a 1990 America run by tyrannical "social engineers", and The Rest Must Die (1959), about survivors of a nuclear catastrophe in New York City. Novellas include Passport to Pax (1952) and Things of Distinction (1952). He edited two sci-fi anthologies, Adventures in Tomorrow (1951) and Future Tense (1952).
Crossen’s last Milo March novel, Death to the Brides (1974), was rejected for publication, owing to a dispute between author and publisher. Crossen reported that his editor at Henry Holt & Co. wanted him to remove an unflattering portrait of President Nixon from the novel, in which Colonel March goes on mission to Vietnam, accompanied by a Puli dog named Dante. This manuscript is preserved along with the rest of Crossen’s papers in the 20th-century collection of the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University. Kendra Crossen Burroughs, who owns the rights to the manuscript, plans to publish it after making some editorial improvements.
Ken Crossen was married four times and had four children: Stephen Foster Crossen, Karen Crossen Ready, Kendra Crossen Burroughs, and David Crossen. He died on November 29, 1981, in Los Angeles.