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Ford, Mary (1924–1977)

Ford, Mary (1924–1977)

American popular singer who, with partner Les Paul, achieved fame during the 1950s. Born Colleen Summers on July 7, 1924, in Pasadena, California; died on September 30, 1977; married Les Paul, in 1949 (divorced); married Dan Hatfield (a contractor); children: (first marriage) one son and one daughter.

Partial discography:

Lover/Brazil (Cap. 15037); Little Rock Getaway/Tennessee Waltz (Cap. 13316); How High the Moon/Walkin' and Whistlin' Blues (Cap. 1451); Whispering/The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise (Cap. 1748); Just One More Chance/Jazz Me Blues (Cap. 1825); It's a Lonesome Old Town/Tiger Rag (Cap. 1920); Smoke Rings/In the Good Old Summertime (Cap. 2123); Meet Mister Callaghan/Take Me in Your Arms (Cap. 2193); Sleep/I'm Sitting on Top of the World (Cap. 2400); Vaya Con Dios/Johnny (Cap. 2486); I Really Don't Want to Know/South (Cap. 2735); additional hits on Columbia (1958–61).

Mary Ford was a country-and-western singer on Gene Autry's Sunday night radio program when she met guitarist Les Paul, who changed her singing style and both of their careers. From their first record together, "Lover," released in 1949, the duo remained at the top of the charts throughout the 1950s. Much of their success was due to Paul's innovative use of echo and multiple-track recording techniques (considered years ahead of their time), which made many of their renditions of old songs sound new. Their single of the standard "How High the Moon" was number one in the nation from April 21 to June 16, 1951. Their enormous hit, "Vaya Con Dios," sold four million copies.

Married in 1949, the couple was at the height of their fame when they announced their divorce in 1963. The news sent such shock waves across the country that their commercial for a clothing store was pulled off the air. Ford later married her high-school sweetheart, Don Hatfield, and settled in Monrovia, California. After the split, Les Paul also abandoned his career to concentrate on inventing, then became active once more in the mid-1970s, performing and promoting guitars. Mary Ford died on September 30, 1977.

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