In 1953, at the age of ten, a young girl from Oklahoma City with a very unusual voice recorded a novelty song called "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas". This famous child star, Gayla Peevey recorded this song by John Rox which hit #24 on the Billboard charts in December of 1953. In October of that same year, she performed the song on the one and only Ed Sullivan Show. You can still find this version easily on line and when you listen to it you will hear why she garnered so much attention for a singer her age.
There's an interesting story that follows the success of this tune. Picking up on the popularity of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas", a local Detroit promoter started a campaign to raise funds to purchase a real hippopotamus for Peevey which they would present to her on Christmas. She donated Mathilda, the 700 pound Nile hippo to the Oklahoma City zoo. Mathilda lived for 50 years!
The singer was on hand once again only a few days ago at the Oklahoma City Zoo to welcome 26-year-old pygmy hippopotamus Francesca who had travelled from the San Diego zoo to her new Oklahoma home.
Truth be told, I wasn't really familiar with this song until one of the caregivers where I work recommended it. My participants get a real kick out of it and most of them know the song. So, when you want to add in a seasonal novelty track to add some variety to your Christmas set list, this is right up there with "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth".