The Les Paul & Mary Ford Show

The Les Paul & Mary Ford Show

Les Paul

Born on June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin

Died on August 13, 1009 in White Plains, New York from complications from pneumonia


Mary Ford (Colleen Summers)

Born on July 7, 1924 in El Monte, California

Died on September 30, 1977 in Arcadia, California from complications from diabetes-pneumonia


THE LES PAUL AND MARY FORD SHOW

MBS, 1950-1951


A 15-minute musical variety program featuring guitarist Les Paul and his wife, vocalist Mary Ford. The Couple had a number of hit records in the 1950s, pioneering many multiple recording techniques.


Paul met country-western singer Colleen Summers in 1945. They began working together in 1948, at which time she adopted the stage name Mary Ford. They were married in 1949. The couple's hits included "How High the Moon", "Bye Bye Blues", "Song in Blue", "Don'cha Hear Them Bells", "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise", and "Vaya con Dios". These songs featured Ford harmonizing with herself.


Like Crosby, Paul and Ford used the now-ubiquitous recording technique known as close miking, where the microphone is less than 6 inches from the singer's mouth. This produces a more-intimate, less-reverberant sound than is heard when a singer is 1 foot or more from the microphone. When implemented using a cardioid-patterned microphone, it emphasizes low-frequency sounds in the voice due to a cardioid microphone's proximity effect and can give a more relaxed feel because the performer isn't working so hard. The result is a singing style which diverged strongly from unamplified theater-style singing, as might be heard in musical comedies of the 1930s and 1940s.


Paul had hosted a fifteen-minute radio program, "The Les Paul and Mary Ford Show," on NBC radio in 1950, featuring his trio (himself, Ford and rhythm player Eddie Stapleton) and his electronics, recorded from their home and with gentle humor between Paul and Ford bridging musical selections, some of which had already been successful on records, some of which anticipated the couple's recordings, and many of which presented re-interpretations of such jazz and pop selections as "In the Mood", "Little Rock Getaway", "Brazil" and "Tiger Rag". Over ten of these shows survive among old-time radio collectors today.


The show also appeared on television a few years later with the same format, but excluding the trio and retitled The Les Paul and Mary Ford Show (also known as Les Paul and Mary Ford at Home) with "Vaya Con Dios" as a theme song. Sponsored by Warner Lambert's Listerine mouthwash, it was widely syndicated during 1954–1955, and was only five minutes (one or two songs) long on film, therefore used as a brief interlude or fill-in in programming schedules. Since Paul created the entire show himself, including audio and video, he maintained the original recordings and was in the process of restoring them to current quality standards until his death.


During his radio shows, Paul introduced the fictional "Les Paulverizer" device, which multiplies anything fed into it, like a guitar sound or a voice. Paul has stated that the idea was to explain to the audience how his single guitar could be multiplied to become a group of guitars. The device even became the subject of comedy, with Ford multiplying herself and her vacuum cleaner with it so she could finish the housework faster.