Mary Ford, also known as Iris Colleen Hatfield (July 7, 1924, El Monte, California â€“ September 30, 1977, Arcadia, California), was an American vocalist and guitarist, comprising half of the husband-and-wife musical team Les Paul and Mary Ford. Between 1950 and 1954, the couple had 16 top-ten hits. In 1951 alone they sold six million records.
Born Iris Colleen Summers, Ford came from a musical family. Her father was a Nazarene minister. Her parents left Missouri, traveling cross-country while singing gospel music and preaching at revival meetings across America. They eventually settled in Southern California, where they were heard over Pasadena's first Christian radio station. Her sisters and brothers were all musicians; Esther, Carol, Eva, Fletcher, jazz organist Bruce and film composer Bob Summers.
In the early 1940s Ford found work as a country music performer with Gene Autry and Jimmy Wakely. She appeared with Wakely in the PRC film I'm from Arkansas (1944) as a member of the Sunshine Girls trio. In 1945, Autry introduced her to guitarist Les Paul, and the two teamed in 1946. For billing purposes, Paul selected "Mary Ford" from a telephone directory so her name would be almost as short as his. With Paul she became one of the early practitioners of multi-tracking. Patti Page and Jane Turzy were other 1950s vocalists who used multi-tracking.