Gayla Peevey, singer of the enduring Christmas classic, "I desire a Hippopotamus for Christmas," stands next to photo she attracted of a hippopotamus in her house Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, in La Mesa, Calif. (Gregory Bull / AP)

LOS ANGELES — all a cute, curly haired 10-year-old girl called Gayla Peevey want for Christmas in 1953 was a hippopotamus.

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and amazingly enough, after "I want a Hippopotamus because that Christmas" came to be the biggest hit song of that holiday season, she actually gained one, a 700-pound baby called Matilda. She timeless donated it come the Oklahoma City Zoo, where it lived to be virtually 50, a ripe old period for hippos.

"That one just really take it off, and also it"s quiet going strong, stronger than ever. Sixty-three year later! tough to believe," Peevey, one ebullient mrs of 73, says during a recent phone interview indigenous her san Diego-area home.

So lot so the it"s used as a cellphone ringtone these days, contained on holiday ornaments and Christmas cards, easily accessible for download on iTunes. It"s even featured in a U.S. Postal business commercial in i m sorry the post office boasts it ships much more online gifts, hippopotamuses included, than anybody.

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Some civilization will tell you it"s an stroked nerves ear worm, a tune with such silly lyrics and also a melody for this reason maddeningly memorable that it will certainly play infinite in your head every holiday season until new Year"s Day.

yet that"s component of that is charm, states Tim Moore, iHeart Radio"s brand-new Hampshire programming director who over the years has play it many of times.

"It"s acquired the sound of one old-time recording," Moore says. "It sounds dated. It sound a tiny corny. However that"s the thing around it. Also, no to be discounted is its impact on children."

for years, Peevey has actually been hearing indigenous schoolteachers about the civilization who tell her their students perform the song and can"t get sufficient of it.

"Over 15 years now we"ve excellent it, and also I don"t think we"re stopping," laughs Dana Caro, who directs the second-grade Christmas music regime at a suburban southerly California school.

various other songs come and also go, claims Caro, but "Hippo" remains in the mix yearly at Arcadia"s Longley means Elementary School.

"Even in class today, us weren"t in rehearsal yet when one boy started singing it, and also then they to be all to sing it," added the teacher, who states it has a bounce and a cheeriness that kids love.

and also who knows, to sing it may actually obtain a child a hippo. Unlikely, perhaps, however it did acquire one for Peevey.

her hometown zoo, hippoless at the time, teamed through the neighborhood newspaper to encourage civilization to send in enough money to buy her one ~ she debuted the tune on television"s "The Ed Sullivan Show."

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3 thousand dollars later, Matilda came down on Christmas Eve, a fitting gift for someone that would for this reason enthusiastically declare, "No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses. I only like hippopotamuses. And hippopotamuses choose me too."

She had been to sing professionally for 2 years prior to recording "Hippo," relocating up from neighborhood watermelon festivals come radio shows and also then a spot on television"s "Saturday Night Revue" organized by Hoagy Carmichael.

yet her hippo fame recorded her turn off guard, and also for months climate she couldn"t move about Oklahoma City without gift mobbed by fans. She parents figured she"d mix in as just one more "normal kid" in California while recording a couple of more songs.

no one would have actually the affect of that an initial one, created by john Rox and personally selected for Peevey by Columbia Records" legendary producer and also A&R man Mitch Miller, who backed her through his orchestra.

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She did resurface summary in 1959 through "My small Marine," an aching teenager ballad she"d written around her an initial crush. She taped it under the name Jamie Horton, she manager not wanting people to dismiss it as one more hippo song. That peaked at No. 84 top top Billboard"s warm 100.

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quickly after, she was off to college, then marriage and also motherhood. At some point she established her own proclaiming agency, maintaining her hand in music writing commercial jingles.

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