Gayla Peevey

Gayla Peevey
Publicity photo of Gayla Peevey in 1953
Background information
Birth name Gayla Rienette Peevey
Born (1943-03-08) March 8, 1943
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1953–1962
Labels Columbia, Joy Records (New York)

Gayla Rienette Peevey (born March 8, 1943) is a former singer and child star from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Her family moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 1948.[1] 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.[2]


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

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.[4] 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.[5]

Alternative-rock band Ween released a reworking of "Are My Ears On Straight" titled "I'm Dancing in the Show Tonight" on their 1997 album The Mollusk.

In addition to being a singer, Henderson is also a 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

YearTitleLabelSingleCatalogue No.
1953I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas/Are My Ears On StraightColumbia Records40106CO49818/CO49819
Wish I Wuz A Whisker (On The Easter Bunny's Chin)/Three Little Bunnies40182RHCO10747/RHCO10748
Kitty In The Basket (duet with Jimmy Boyd)/I'm So Glad (duet with Jimmy Boyd)40218RHCO10753/RHCO10754
Upsy Down Town/A Dog Named Joe40264CO49820/CO49821
1954Angel In The Christmas Play/Got A Cold In The Node For Christmas40364RHCO33252/RHCO33253
Daddy's Report Card/The Night I Ran Away40425RHCO10749/RHCO10750
195577 Santas/Rubberlegs (The Knock-Kneed Monkey)40602RZSP33598/RZSP33599
1957I Want You To Be My Guy/Too Young To Have A Broken Heart40932JZSP41539/JZSP41540
1958That's What I Learned In School/Do It Again41027JZSP42215/JZSP42214

Singles (as Jamie Horton) on Joy Records (New York)

YearTitleLabelSingleCatalogue No.
1959My Little Marine/Missin'Joy Records (New York)234K90W-8507/K90W-8508
1960Where's My Love/Heartbreakin' Doll237KS-193/KS-194
Just Say So/There Goes My Love240L90W-2188
Robot Man/We're Through – We're Finished241JR-7051/JR-7031
What Should A Teen Heart Do/Hands Off, He's Mine245
1961When It Comes To Love/Yes, I'll Be Your Girl252
Going, Going, Going Gone/They're Playing Our Song (contains elements of 16 Candles)258JR-7103/JR-7101
Dear Jane/Only Forever266JR-7073/JR-7122
1962Go Shout It From A Mountain/Oh Love (Stop Knockin' On My Door)269


  1. Gayla Peevey biography. (March 8, 1943). Retrieved on 2017-01-23.
  2. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (July 25, 1960). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 3. ISSN 0006-2510.
  3. 1 2 "Biography of Gayla Peevey," Internet Movie Database (accessed May 11, 2010).
  4. Novelty Nook, Fifties and Sixties, (accessed May 11, 2010).
  5. " City Zoo Hippo Dies En Route to Florida Park". News OK (March 4, 1998). Retrieved on 2017-01-23.
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