Dear Cool Daddy: Whatever happened to the Terrible Triumvirate of kiddie Xmas singers…Jimmy “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” Boyd…Gayla “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” Peevey… and Barry “Nuttin’ for Christmas” Gordon? …from Krissy in Bethlehem, PA..
Dear Krissy: Of the 3, Barry Gordon has had the most successful career in show business. Born in Brookline, Mass., he has worked more or less continuously since his smash record, recorded when he was 6, up to the present day. (Notice he got second billing to the Art Mooney Orchestra.) He was something a a child star, acting in both movies and on TV, and at age 13 was nominated for a Tony for his role in A Thousand Clowns, which he later reprised in the 1965 film. His resume is long and varied, with nothing really spectacular popping out. He might best be remember as Dennis Whitehead, writer of the soap “Those Who Care” in the final season of the forgettable New Dick Van Dyke Show…as Carroll O’Connor’s accountant in the final 2 seasons of Archie Bunker’s Place…and as the voice of Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Jimmy Boyd was older…but he played much younger. You’d hardly guess he was 13 when he “Saw Mommy…” and 14 when he recorded “Tell Me A Story” with Frankie Laine. He would record many holiday and non-holiday novelty records, most of which are actually pretty clever, while ignored today. As an older teen, he tried his hand at rockabilly and rock and roll, to no avail…altho he worked in the early 1960s with Leon Russell and J. J. Cale. Around that time her was briefly married to Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig, and toured Vietnam with the USO. His career included a little of everything: TV and film roles, stand-up comedy, stage work, and he never stopped sining and recording. He died in 2009 of cancer at age 70.
Gayla Peevey also had a prolific career as a child singer, and even recorded several duets with Jimmy Boyd. Her “Hippo” song was done when she was 10, but like Boyd she had many other Christmas and mainstream novelty records, none of which could match the success of the the Hippo…and altho it was not originally planned as such, the record was later used in a campaign to buy a real hippo for her hometown Oklahoma City Zoo…the beast lived over for 50 years.
Like Boyd, she tried her hand unsuccessfully as a teenage singer under the name of Jamie Horton…”Robot Man” from 1959 is a real hoot. She eventually got an education degree had successful careers as a teacher and owner of an advertising agency. BTW…that flip-side “Are My Ears on Straight?” is about a broken dolly who is repaired in time for Christmas, but worries that she’s still as adorable as she was…like the Hippo song, odd but endearing, sez me.
I saw mommy’s hippopotamus kissing shameless plugs…
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Updated Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com/p/resume.html
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