Les Paul and Mary Ford began making radio programs together for NBC, including Les Paul and Mary Ford at Home, a fifteen-minute program that was pre-recorded and broadcast every Friday night,
Ford and Paul put out 28 hits for Capitol Records between 1950 and 1957, including "Tiger Rag", "Vaya con Dios" (11 weeks at #1), "How High the Moon" (nine weeks at #1), "Bye Bye Blues" and "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise". These songs featured Ford harmonizing with herself, giving the vocals a novel sound. Paul and Ford did all their recording at home or on the road and submitted the masters to Capitol, with Paul dictating to the record company what songs were destined to become hits. Paul and Ford also used the now-ubiquitous recording technique known as close miking, where the microphone is less than six inches from the singer's mouth. This produces a more intimate, less reverberant sound than when the singer is a foot or more from the microphone. It also emphasizes low-frequency sounds in the voice. The result was a singing style that diverged strongly from earlier styles, such as vocals in musical comedies of the 1930s and 1940s.
After extensive touring and recording, the couple decided to leave Hollywood and moved to New York City to make the crossover from radio to television. They took a cramped apartment in Paul's former New York neighbourhood, where they conceived and recorded their arrangement of "How High The Moon", a hard-swinging multi-layered arrangement containing twelve overdubs using the guitar and Ford's voice. While Capitol was reluctant to release this song, after they had scored several more hits with Capitol, including, 'Tennessee Waltz" and "Mockin' Bird Hill", "How High The Moon" was released in March 1951. Within a month, "How High The Moon" and "Mockin' Bird Hill" captured The Hit Parade's number 1 and number 2 spots, respectively.
During 1951 Ford and Paul earned $500,000, and had recorded more top ten hits for the year than Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and The Andrews Sisters combined. They also tied Patti Page for top selling recording artist, having sold more than six million disks since January 1951.
Paul bought a Cadillac to use on their expanding road tours with plenty of space for all their electronic gear. They also purchased a woodland retreat in Mahwah, New Jersey, in the Ramapo Mountains, and their mansion included a recording studio and an echo chamber carved out of a neighbouring mountain. In September 1952, after cutting "I'm Sitting on Top of the World", Ford and Paul sailed for London to appear at the Palladium Theatre, where they debuted before Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family. In 1952, their innovative sound was satirized by Stan Freberg in his recording of "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise" (Capitol, F 2279).
In 1953 the couple recorded "Vaya con Dios" (Capitol 2486), the biggest selling song of their career, which was released in June 1953, entered the Billboard charts on June 13, 1953, and reached number one on August 8 and remaining there for a total of nine weeks. The song lasted thirty-one weeks on the chart, and also reached number one on the Cash Box chart.
Following this success of "Vaya con Dios", in 1953 the couple started to host The Les Paul and Mary Ford Show, their own daily television program broadcast from their Mahwah home. The show, which was five minutes long and sponsored by Listerine, ran from 1953 to 1960 on NBC television and in syndication. In early 1955, rock and roll came along and eventually threatened the popularity of many performers including Paul and Ford. In 1955, they gave a concert at Carnegie Hall, and in 1956, the couple performed at the Eisenhower White House.