One of our favorite songs to play at Christmas is “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas.” [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gayla Peevey[/lastfm] was just 10 years old when she recorded her holiday hit. We caught up with Gayla to find out what she’s doing today.
Young Gayla had been singing professionally for 2 years in the Oklahoma City area when she signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1953. They flew her up to New York City to record a few songs they had selected for her, and among those songs was “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas.” Who knew that it would be such a big hit for a girl so young!
The Oklahoma City Zoo was in need of a hippopotamus at the time, and they took advantage of the song. A campaign was started to buy Gayla a hippopotamus for Christmas. Money was donated from all across the country, and it was enough to buy a hippo from Africa and have it flown in. Matilda the Hippopotamus was presented to Gayla on Christmas Day 1953. Of course, she couldn’t really keep it in her garage, so she turned around and donated Matilda to the OKC Zoo.
Gayla went on to finish school and go to college, where she studied teaching. She taught school for a little while before starting her own marketing business where she wrote jingles and produced radio spots. She got married and had a daughter, who has since given Gayla 3 grandchildren.
Quite a blessed life for a girl whose song has made generations of people smile at Christmastime!