On this day in pop culture history: ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ opened in theaters

26 years ago today, the Griswold family cemented their place in the pantheon Christmas movies.

The third installment of National Lampoon”s “Vacation” comedy series features plenty of holiday hijinks ensuing  – including a squirrel in the Christmas tree, a sled ride made dangerous by an experimental substance, and a bit of kidnapping – as Chevy Chase”s Clark Griswold tries to keep it all together in front of his siblings. 

Fun fact: “Christmas Vacation” was one of two Christmas movies released in 1989, the other being John Hancock”s “Prancer.” Johnny Galecki, a.k.a. Rusty Griswold (now better known as Leonard from “The Big Bang Theory”) appeared in both of these holiday movies.

Other notable December 1 happenings in pop culture history:

• 1887: The first Sherlock Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet,” was published in “Beeton”s Christmas Annual”   

• 1903: “The Great Train Robbery,” notable for many firsts in filmmaking, had its world premiere at Huber”s Museum in New York City where it played at the end of a vaudeville show.

• 1958: “Flower Drum Song,” the eighth musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, opened on Broadway.

• 1975: Styz released their fifth album, “Equinox.”

• 1985: The mini-series adaptation of “Anne of Green Gables,” the beloved book series about a red-haired orphan who is adopted by a Prince Edward Island family, premiered in Canada.

• 1987: Prince canceled release of “The Black Album” just one week before its scheduled release. Several bootleg copies were still circulated, and it was eventually released officially in 1994.

• 2003: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” held its world premiere in Wellington, New Zealand. According to some estimates, 100,000 people – the equivalent of a quarter of Wellington's population – lined the streets for the event which, at the time, boasted the longest red carpet for a premiere, over 421 meters long.

Birthdays: “Annie Hall” filmmaker Woody Allen (80), “X-Men: First Class” actress Zoë Kravitz (27), singer-songwriter Vance Joy (28), “Hocus Pocus” actress Bette Midler (70), singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe (30), “Lars and the Real Girl” actress Emily Mortimer (44), “The Hobbit” actor Dean O”Gorman (39), comedian Sarah Silverman (45)