Gayla Peevey

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Gayla Peevey
Born (1943-03-08) March 8, 1943 (age 73)
Ponca City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1953-1962
Labels Columbia, Joy Records (New York)

Gayla Peevey Henderson (born March 8, 1943) is a former singer and child star from Ponca City, Oklahoma. She is best known for her recording, under her maiden name Gayla Peevey, of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" (Columbia 4-40106, 1953). Peevey recorded the novelty song when she was 10 years old.

In 1960, under the name Jamie Horton, she had a minor hit with the song "Robot Man", a Connie Francis cover.[1]


Peevey graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Education degree.[2] She eventually left teaching and owned her own advertising firm for 15 years.[2] She is married to Cliff Henderson. They have a daughter, Sydney Forest, and 3 grandchildren.

In popular culture[edit]

The Oklahoma City Zoo capitalized upon the popularity of "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas" with a fundraising campaign to "buy a hippo for Gayla". The fund raised $3,000 (equivalent to $27,552.12 present day), and a baby hippopotamus named Matilda was purchased and given to Peevey which she then donated to the zoo.[3] The hippopotamus named Matilda spent 45 years in the Oklahoma City Zoo, and then died at age 47 from a heart attack in 1998 while being transferred to the Walt Disney World's Disney's Animal Kingdom, in Orlando, Florida.[4]

In addition to being a talented singer, Henderson is also an accomplished songwriter, penning several of her Joy Records (New York) singles, including My Little Marine, Just Say So, We're Through - We're Finished, When It Comes To Love, Yes, I'll Be Your Girl and Dear Jane.

Singles (as Gayla Peevey) on Columbia Records[edit]

Year Title Label Single Catalogue No.
1953 I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas/Are My Ears On Straight Columbia Records 40106 CO49818/CO49819
Wish I Wuz A Whisker (On The Easter Bunny's Chin)/Three Little Bunnies 40182 RHCO10747/RHCO10748
Kitty In The Basket (duet with Jimmy Boyd)/I'm So Glad (duet with Jimmy Boyd) 40218 RHCO10753/RHCO10754
Upsy Down Town/A Dog Named Joe 40264 CO49820/CO49821
1954 Angel In The Christmas Play/Got A Cold In The Node For Christmas 40364 RHCO33252/RHCO33253
Daddy's Report Card/The Night I Ran Away 40425 RHCO10749/RHCO10750
1955 77 Santas/Rubberlegs (The Knock-Kneed Monkey) 40602 RZSP33598/RZSP33599
1957 I Want You To Be My Guy/Too Young To Have A Broken Heart 40932 JZSP41539/JZSP41540
1958 That's What I Learned In School/Do It Again 41027 JZSP42215/JZSP42214

Singles (as Jamie Horton) on Joy Records (New York)[edit]

Year Title Label Single Catalogue No.
1959 My Little Marine/Missin' Joy Records (New York) 234 K90W-8507/K90W-8508
1960 Where's My Love/Heartbreakin' Doll 237 KS-193/KS-194
Just Say So/There Goes My Love 240 L90W-2188
Robot Man/We're Through - We're Finished 241 JR-7051/JR-7031
What Should A Teen Heart Do/Hands Off, He's Mine 245
1961 When It Comes To Love/Yes, I'll Be Your Girl 252
Going, Going, Going Gone/They're Playing Our Song (contains elements of 16 Candles) 258 JR-7103/JR-7101
Dear Jane/Only Forever 266 JR-7073/JR-7122
1962 Go Shout It From A Mountain/Oh Love (Stop Knockin' On My Door) 269


  1. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (25 July 1960). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 3. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  2. ^ a b "Biography of Gayla Peevey," Internet Movie Database (accessed May 11, 2010).
  3. ^ Novelty Nook, Fifties and Sixties, (accessed May 11, 2010).
  4. ^ News OK:" City Zoo Hippo Dies En Route to Florida Park"

External links[edit]