I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
|"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"|
|Single by Gayla Peevey|
|B-side||"Are My Ears on Straight?"|
|Label||Columbia (no. 4-40106)|
"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" is a Christmas novelty song written by John Rox (1902–1957) and performed by Gayla Peevey (10 years old at the time) in 1953. The song peaked at number 24 on Billboard magazine's pop chart in December 1953.
Peevey was a child star (born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), before her family moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, when she was five. When released nationally by Columbia Records the song shot to the top of the charts, and the city zoo acquired a baby hippo named Matilda.
A popular legend holds that this 1953 hit had been recorded as a fundraiser to bring the city zoo a hippo; but in a 2007 radio interview with Detroit-based WNIC radio station, Peevey clarified that the song was not originally recorded as a fundraiser. Instead, a local promoter picked up on the popularity of the song and Peevey's local roots, and launched a campaign to present her with an actual hippopotamus on Christmas.
The campaign succeeded, and she was presented with an actual hippopotamus, which she donated to the city zoo. The hippopotamus lived for nearly 50 years.
Gayla Peevey later recorded as Jamie Horton, scoring the Billboard Hot 100-charter "My Little Marine" in 1960.
It is a Dr. Demento Christmas staple, and is currently available on Dr. Demento's The Greatest Novelty Records of All Time Vol. 6: Christmas.
Country music singer Gretchen Wilson recorded a rendition in late 2009. It debuted at No. 54 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts dated for January 2, 2010. It is included on her album Christmas in My Heart, released in 2013.
A version was also recorded by the British entertainer Terry Hall and his puppet Lenny The Lion.
- "Local Song Writer Dies", The Winterset Madisonian (Winterset, Iowa), August 14, 1957.
- "Alice Pearce's Nuptials", The New York Times, May 23, 1948, p. 65.
- "John R. Rox" [sic], The New York Times, August 6, 1957, p. 26.
- "John J. Rox, Song Writer", The Washington Post, August 8, 1957, p. B-2.
- "John Jefferson Rox" in Notable Names in the American Theatre. James T. White & Co., 1976. ISBN 0-88371-018-8.
- Renewal registration RE0000084409, February 23, 1981, of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas", by John Jefferson Rox, U.S. Copyright Office database on-line.
- John J. Rox in: National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938–1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920–2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 53. ISBN 0-89820-161-6.
- Gayla Peevey biography
- "The Ed Sullivan Show". The official site by Gayla Peevey. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
- "The Breakfast Club" morning show. WNIC, Detroit, MI. December 19, 2007.
- "Christmas Music Coundown: Day 9.5", The Portland Mercury. December 15, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
- "The Three Stooges – Records". Retrieved May 6, 2009.
- "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas - Single by LeAnn Rimes". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
- Conaway, Alanna (August 8, 2014). "LeAnn Rimes Has a New Album, a New Reality TV Show and a New Attitude (2014)". Country Weekly. American Media, Inc. Retrieved October 19, 2014.