During the Great Depression of the 1930's, Ben Parker, then a young man, worked as a carnival barker at the amusement park in New York City's Coney Island. He was deeply attracted to May Reilly, who was then a strikingly beautiful, young woman who lived with her parents in his Brooklyn neighborhood. May, however, believed herself to be in love with a young man named Johnny Jerome, who clearly had far more money than Ben. Jerome, she thought, offered her the promise of a more exciting life in this time of severe economic hardship. Ben warned May that Jerome was actually a criminal, but she dismissed what Ben said about him as a jealous slander.
One day, however, Jerome unexpectedly confronted May and proposed to her on the spot, saying that he wanted them to leave together right away. May heard the police out on the street and realized that something was wrong. Then, an angry Ben came in and told her that Jerome and some accomplices had just robbed a jewelry store and had shot a man who tried to call for help. May realized that Jerome was indeed a criminal and told Jerome she could never marry such a man. Jerome left and was almost immediately captured by the police outside. Ben comforted the weeping May in his arms. Jerome was convicted for murder and burglary.
The night the Jerome proposed to her was a turning point in May Reilly's life. She began to set aside her fantasies about marrying someone well off financially, and learned to make decisions about the direction of her life. Coming to appreciate Ben Parker and his devotion to her, May fell in love with him. Ben married May, and their life together was long and happy.
Ben had a considerably younger brother, Richard, who became an intelligence agent. Richard married another agent, Mary, and the two of them had a son, Peter. While Peter was still an infant, Richard and Mary were assigned to infiltrate the Algerian based spy ring controlled by the Communist agent, the Red Skull. The moment the Red Skull learned that Richard and Mary Parker were double agents, he had them killed.
While Richard and Mary were on assignment, Ben and May took care of Peter. Ben and May had never had children of their own, but after Richard and Mary died, they became Peter’s surrogate parents and raised him as if he were their own son. The teenage Peter, before he gained superhuman powers, was shy and studious, and felt alienated from his fellow high-school students. Ben and May provided him with the love and emotional support he needed, and they were the only two people Peter truly cared for.
Through an unusual accident, Peter gained superhuman powers. He decided not to tell anyone what had happened to him, not even Ben and May, and created the costumed identity of Spider-Man for himself.
As Spider-Man, he became an overnight success in the entertainment world. After one television appearance, he saw a guard chasing a thief in the studio building. The guard called out to Spider-Man for help, but the masked youth ignored him, thinking that capturing criminals was none of his business, and the burglar got away.
This unidentified burglar, however, had been the cellmate of the infamous depression era gangster "Dutch" Mallone. In the 1930's Mallone lived in New York City's Forest Hills section in the very same house that was now inhabited by Ben, May, and Peter. Eventually, Mallone was captured at the same house by a force of Treasury agents led by the celebrated "untouchable" Elliott Ness and was convicted on tax evasion charges. It was long rumored that Mallone had hidden millions of dollars away somewhere. Mallone was sent from one prison to another, and finally, as an elderly man, he became the cellmate of the burglar who Spider-Man allowed to escape. The burglar heard Mallone talk in his sleep about where he hid the money. It was somewhere in his old house in Forest hills. (unknown to the burglar, however, the money was hidden in a box behind a wall in the house, but had long ago been devoured by silverfish.)
One night, a few weeks after the burglar and Spider-Man had crossed paths in the television studio, the burglar broke into the Parker home while Peter was away making a personal appearance as Spider-Man. The burglar took the Parker home by surprise and held Ben and May at gunpoint. Saying that he needed her to show him around so he could find something, the burglar grabbed May. Furious, Ben ordered the burglar to unhand May and angrily reached toward him. Frightened, the burglar shot Ben and fled. May wanted to send for an ambulance, but the mortally wounded Ben knew that it was too late for a doctor to help him. Telling her that he loved her, Ben Parker died.
Returning home, Peter was told by policemen that a burglar had killed his uncle and was now trapped by the police in the Acme warehouse at the waterfront. Infuriated, Peter donned the Spider-Man costume, went to the warehouse, and captured the burglar. Upon seeing the burglar's face, Spider-Man realized to his horror that it was same thief he had let escape at the television studio. Had he captured the burglar then, Spider-Man told himself, his beloved uncle Ben would still be alive.
Spider-Man turned the burglar over to police. Years later, the burglar, made a second attempt to find Mallone's treasure, held May Parker prisoner, and threatened to kill her if she didn't aid him. Spider-Man defeated the burglar, who died of a heart attack brought on by his sheer terror of his costumed nemesis.
From the night he first captured the burglar, the same night that Ben Parker died, Peter Parker's attitude towards his life and superhuman abilities was radically changed. The fact that he could have saved his Uncle Ben’s life by taking the time to stop the burglar at the studio weeks before, demonstrated to Peter Parker that with great power there must also come great responsibility. His guilt over failing to prevent the death of Ben Parker became the motivating force behind Peter Parker's career as Spider-Man. Peter vowed never to let harm come to an innocent person ever again if he could help, and so it was that Spider-Man became the crime fighter that he remains to this day.
After Spider-Man played a vital role in preventing the resurrection of Dormammu, an unidentified higher power provided Doctor Strange with a small box that he felt he had to give to Spider-Man as a reward for his role in events. When Peter opened the box on the roof of his apartment building, it contained a note saying "You have five minutes. Spend them as you will", followed by Ben appearing on the roof. It was revealed that this Ben- whether a ghost or Ben having been temporally relocated from the moment before his death- remembered being out for the walk that resulted in him getting shot but nothing afterwards, although he concluded that the events leading to him being on that roof were not important. In their talk Ben said that the only thing that would disappoint him about Peter is if Peter ever settled for less because he was afraid of reaching for more. This helps Peter to see that he had a good life for all its hardships, recognizing that he has always used what he has, and Ben assures Peter that he is proud of him before he vanishes.
As he was a former soldier, it can be assumed that he has some knowledge in firearms and martial arts.
Ben Parker possessed a normal human strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engaged in moderate regular exercise.
It has been stated that the only person who will not come back to life is Uncle Ben. However, the same was said of Bucky Barnes, who not only came back to life, but later became the new Captain America.