When Ralph Dibny was a young man, he found himself obsessed with the "Indian Rubber Men" he saw at various carnivals and sideshows. Desperately curious about just how their powers of contortion worked, Ralph eventually found out that they all drank a soft drink brand called Gingold, which contained gingo, a rare fruit from the Yucatán, one which most people were severely allergic to, but which gave those who could stand it more elastic skin and limbs. Ralph then found a way to distill the gingo fruit down to its raw form, and once he ingested that, he gained the powers to stretch his body in all kinds of forms.
Soon after gaining his abilities, Ralph ended up moving to Central City and becoming a costumed Super-Hero, and started calling himself the Elongated Man. As long as he took a new dose of the gingo extract every few days, he could maintain his powers. Once in Central City, Ralph became close friends and crime fighting partners with Barry Allen, the second Flash. During his early years as a costumed hero, Ralph learned to become an amazing detective, despite not being formally trained, and doing everything on instinct.
Despite wearing a mask early on his heroic career, Ralph decided to reveal his secret identity to the public, being one of the very first DC Super Heroes to ever do so. Becoming a wealthy celebrity from his nationwide public appearances, it was during one of those that that Ralph met and fell in love with a woman named Sue Dearbon, whom he later married. Together, Ralph and Sue becoming a mystery solving pair of globetrotting detectives, a kind of married Holmes and Watson.
Ralph joined the Justice League of America during their most formidable years, when they were operating out of a satellite in Earth's orbit. Elongated Man stayed with the team when they shed many of their most powerful members and moved their base of operations to Detroit, and then joined the European branch of the Justice League International. Always, his wife Sue was at his side. After the JLI broke up, Ralph had some adventures in Opal City with Starman, and fought alongside his friend Barry's successor as the Flash, Wally West. He rejoined his JLI teammates when they got back together and called themselves "the Super Buddies," and even had a brief stint in the Doom Patrol.
Ralph's charmed life hit a brick wall when his wife Sue was murdered. Not being able to cope with the loss of the love of his life, Ralph became hellbent on finding a way to bring her back to the land of the living. He stops taking the gingo extract, therefore losing his powers, but goes on a quest all over the world to find a way to reunite with his lost wife by going to every magic user and wizard he could find. Ultimately however, he discovered he could only reunite with Sue one way – by dying himself.
Now reunited with the love of his life on the other side, Ralph and Sue became a pair of ghostly detectives, helping solve Earthy crimes, only from beyond the grave. Only Batman has been able to deduce that Ralph and Sue are possessing different living bodies to interact with people on the physical plane. Although their spirits had moved on, Ralph's body was desecrated when it, along with Sue's, was resurrected as a member of the Black Lantern Corps during the event known as the Blackest Night. The Black Lantern Ralph even killed Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but when the Black Lantern Corps was defeated, Ralph's body returned to the grave.
In the post-Flashpoint DC Universe, Ralph and Sue were never killed. He shows up during an adventure involving the Secret Six. It is not revealed if this version of the Elongated Man was ever a member of the Justice League.