Have you ever wondered who sings the popular Christmas song, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”? Join me as we delve into the history and artist behind this festive tune.
- “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is a Christmas novelty song written by John Rox and performed by 10-year-old Gayla Peevey in 1953.
- The song peaked at number 24 on Billboard magazine’s pop chart in December 1953.
- Gayla Peevey, an Oklahoma City native, became a child star and helped raise funds to bring a hippopotamus to the city’s zoo through the success of the song.
- The Oklahoma City Zoo acquired a baby hippo named Matilda as a result of the campaign.
- Pygmy hippos, like the one named Francesca, are now an endangered species with fewer than 3,000 remaining in the wild.
The Voice Behind “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” was written by John Rox and performed by a 10-year-old girl named Gayla Peevey in 1953. The catchy Christmas novelty song quickly gained popularity and became a hit on the Billboard pop chart, reaching number 24 in December of that year.
Gayla Peevey, a child star from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, shot to fame with her charming rendition of the song. Peevey’s family moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, when she was five, and it was there that her journey to becoming a singer began.
With the nationwide release of the song by Columbia Records, Peevey’s performance captivated audiences across the country. The success of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” led to an unexpected turn of events – the Oklahoma City Zoo acquired a baby hippopotamus named Matilda. This was made possible through a fundraising campaign inspired by the popularity of the song and Peevey’s connection to the local community.
|1953||Gayla Peevey||Original version|
|1959||The Three Stooges||Recorded a version|
|1961||Bob Keeshan||Recorded a version as Captain Kangaroo|
|2016||Kacey Musgraves||Recorded a version for her Christmas album|
Since its release, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” has been covered by various artists over the years. The Three Stooges recorded their own version in 1959, and Bob Keeshan, known for his role as Captain Kangaroo, recorded a rendition in 1961 with his collaborator Lumpy Brannum as Mr. Green Jeans. More recently, country music singer Kacey Musgraves included her own interpretation of the song on her Christmas album.
With its catchy tune and whimsical lyrics, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” continues to be a beloved holiday song that brings joy to listeners every year, thanks to the talented artists who have brought it to life.
The Journey to Fame
After its release, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” quickly climbed the charts, becoming a beloved holiday tune in the United States. The catchy and lighthearted nature of the song resonated with listeners, making it a staple during the festive season. Over the years, the song has been covered by numerous artists, solidifying its place in the Christmas music canon.
One of the most notable renditions of the song came from 10-year-old Gayla Peevey in 1953. Her performance on The Ed Sullivan Show helped catapult the song to popularity, and it peaked at number 24 on the Billboard pop chart that same year. Peevey’s charming vocals and the novelty appeal of the song captured the hearts of listeners across the country.
The song’s success also had a significant impact on the Oklahoma City Zoo. In an interesting turn of events, the popularity of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” led to a fundraising campaign in which children donated dimes to bring a hippopotamus to the zoo. The campaign was successful, and Peevey was presented with a real hippopotamus named Matilda on Christmas Eve. Matilda lived at the Oklahoma City Zoo for nearly 50 years, becoming a beloved attraction for visitors.
|1961||Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo)||Christmas with Captain Kangaroo|
|2014||LeAnn Rimes||One Christmas: Chapter 1|
|2016||Kacey Musgraves||A Very Kacey Christmas|
Throughout the years, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” has been covered by a variety of artists. Bob Keeshan, known as Captain Kangaroo, recorded a version of the song in 1961, providing a unique twist on the holiday classic. In more recent years, LeAnn Rimes and Kacey Musgraves have also released their renditions, adding their own personal touches to the beloved tune.
Famous Renditions of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
- Gayla Peevey – 1953
- Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) – 1961
- LeAnn Rimes – 2014
- Kacey Musgraves – 2016
From its humble beginnings as a novelty song performed by a young girl to its enduring popularity and various cover versions, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” has become a beloved holiday classic. Its catchy melody and playful lyrics continue to bring joy to listeners of all ages during the festive season.
|Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo)||1961||Christmas with Captain Kangaroo|
|LeAnn Rimes||2014||One Christmas: Chapter 1|
|Kacey Musgraves||2016||A Very Kacey Christmas|
The Impact on the Oklahoma City Zoo
The popularity of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” sparked a fundraising campaign that resulted in the Oklahoma City Zoo acquiring a baby hippo named Matilda. Released in 1953, the song quickly climbed the charts and caught the attention of the local community. Inspired by the catchy tune and the young Gayla Peevey’s connection to the city, a campaign was launched to raise funds for the purchase of a real hippopotamus.
Children across Oklahoma donated their dimes to the cause, eager to make Peevey’s Christmas wish come true. The campaign was a success, and on Christmas Eve of 1953, Peevey received a 700-pound Nile hippo named Matilda. But this heartwarming story doesn’t end there.
Matilda lived at the Oklahoma City Zoo for almost 50 years, becoming a beloved attraction for visitors of all ages. Her presence brought joy and excitement to countless families who came to see the hippo inspired by Peevey’s song. Matilda became an iconic symbol of the song’s impact on the community and the zoo.
Fast forward to 2017, and the Oklahoma City Zoo once again made headlines with the acquisition of a pygmy hippopotamus named Francesca. Gayla Peevey, now 74 years old, was present at the zoo to witness the arrival of the new hippo. Francesca joined Wolee, a 43-year-old pygmy hippo, in the zoo’s pachyderm exhibit.
The addition of Francesca further highlights the lasting impact of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” on the Oklahoma City Zoo. The song not only brought joy and laughter to millions but also played a significant role in the conservation and preservation of these incredible animals.
Here is a summarized table listing the different versions of the song recorded by various artists:
|Vicki Dale and the Peter Pan Orchestra||1953|
|The Three Stooges||1959|
|Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo)||1961|
|Malcolm T Elliot||1975|
In conclusion, the impact of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” on the Oklahoma City Zoo is undeniable. The song inspired a community to come together and raise funds for the acquisition of a real hippopotamus, resulting in the beloved Matilda. This heartwarming story of a young girl’s Christmas wish turned into a lasting legacy that continues to bring joy to visitors of the Oklahoma City Zoo. And with the recent addition of Francesca, the song’s influence on the zoo’s pachyderm exhibit lives on, reminding us of the power of music and the connection it can create between humans and animals.
Notable Renditions of the Song
Over the years, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” has been covered by various artists, each putting their own spin on the festive tune. Here are some notable renditions of the song:
- Gretchen Wilson: Country music singer Gretchen Wilson recorded a rendition of the song in late 2009. The song debuted at No. 54 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts and is included on her album “Christmas in My Heart,” released in 2013.
- LeAnn Rimes: American recording artist LeAnn Rimes released her cover of the song as a digital single for her EP, “One Christmas: Chapter 1,” in 2014.
- Kacey Musgraves: American recording artist Kacey Musgraves recorded and released a version of the song in 2016 for her Christmas album entitled “A Very Kacey Christmas.”
These talented artists have added their own unique styles and interpretations to the beloved holiday tune, showcasing the song’s enduring popularity and appeal.
In addition to these notable renditions, other artists and groups, such as Vicki Dale and the Peter Pan Orchestra, The Three Stooges, and Bob Keeshan (as Captain Kangaroo), have also recorded their own versions of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” With each new interpretation, the song continues to captivate audiences and spread holiday cheer.
Table: Notable Renditions of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
|Gretchen Wilson||2009||Christmas in My Heart|
|LeAnn Rimes||2014||One Christmas: Chapter 1|
|Kacey Musgraves||2016||A Very Kacey Christmas|
These are just a few examples of the many talented artists who have put their own unique twist on “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Whether it’s a country rendition, a pop interpretation, or a nostalgic take, each version of the song keeps the holiday spirit alive and brings joy to listeners of all ages.
“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” continues to be a beloved holiday song, and its original singer, Gayla Peevey, will forever be associated with this catchy tune. Released in 1953 when she was just 10 years old, Peevey’s rendition of the song quickly gained popularity and even reached number 24 on Billboard magazine’s pop chart that year.
The song holds a special place in the hearts of many, as it not only brought joy during the holiday season but also had a significant impact on the Oklahoma City Zoo. Inspired by the song, a fund drive was organized, and children donated dimes to purchase a hippopotamus for the zoo. The campaign was successful, and Peevey was presented with a baby hippo named Matilda on Christmas Eve.
Since then, the song has been covered by various artists over the years, including Vicki Dale and the Peter Pan Orchestra, The Three Stooges, and LeAnn Rimes, among others. Each rendition brings a unique touch to the song while keeping its infectious spirit alive.
Today, Gayla Peevey’s contribution to the holiday music canon and her association with “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” continue to bring smiles to people’s faces. The song’s legacy lives on, reminding us of the joy and whimsy that the holiday season brings.
Q: Who is the original singer of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”?
A: The original singer of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is Gayla Peevey, who recorded the song in 1953 when she was 10 years old.
Q: What made the song popular?
A: The song became popular after Gayla Peevey performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show in October 1953. It also gained attention because of a fundraising campaign to bring a hippopotamus to the Oklahoma City Zoo.
Q: What impact did the song have on the Oklahoma City Zoo?
A: The success of the song inspired a fundraising campaign that allowed the Oklahoma City Zoo to acquire a baby hippopotamus named Matilda. This led to a longstanding tradition of hippos at the zoo.
Q: Who else has recorded versions of the song?
A: Many artists have recorded versions of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” over the years, including Vicki Dale and the Peter Pan Orchestra, The Three Stooges, Bob Keeshan (as Captain Kangaroo), LeAnn Rimes, and Kacey Musgraves, among others.
Q: Did Gayla Peevey receive any royalties from the song?
A: In a 2010 interview, Gayla Peevey stated that she had never received any royalties from the song.
Q: Are pygmy hippos endangered?
A: Yes, pygmy hippos are listed as endangered, with fewer than 3,000 remaining in the wild.