This Day in Pop Culture for December 17

The Simpsons

1989: The Debut of ‘The Simpsons’

Originally a part of The Tracey Ullman Show, The Simpsons got their own Christmas special which aired on FOX on this day in 1989. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire also known as The Simpsons Christmas Special was created by Matt Groening and was written by Mimi Pond, who only wrote the one episode. The story tells how the family got their dog, Santa’s Little Helper, it was viewed by 13.4 million viewers, it was nominated for two Emmy Awards and the show hasn’t left the airwaves since.

1982: ‘Tootsie’ Struts into Theaters

Tootsie, the second most profitable film of 1982, shared the story of an out-of-work actor who is do desperate to get a job that he adopts a new identity as a woman and in turn, finds out that living life as a woman is tougher than he thought. The movie was directed by Sydney Pollack and starred Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning and Geena Davis in her acting debut. Although nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, it only won one for Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Lange).

The Chipmunk Song
(Warner Bros.)

1958: Alvin Wants a Hula Hoop

Americans got their first taste of Alvin and the Chipmunks when their first hit, “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”, was released on this day in 1958. The song was written and sung by Ross Bagdasarian under the stage name of David Seville. For the song, he did four rounds of recordings – one with his own voice as David and three others as the chipmunks named Alvin, Theodore and Simon all recorded at different speeds. The song won three Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Performance, Best Children’s Recording, and Best Engineered Record (that was non classical). It even reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles chart and was the only Christmas record to reach the same chart spot until Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” dethroned it in 2019.


  • 1913: Burt Baskin (co-founder of Baskin-Robbins)
  • 1935: Cal Ripken S. (baseball player)
  • 1936: Pope Francis
  • 1945: Ernie Hudson (actor)
  • 1945: Chris Matthews (journalist)
  • 1946: Eugne Levy (actor)
  • 1953: Bill Pullman (actor)
  • 1956: Peter Farrelly (film director)
  • 1974: Sarah Paulson (actress)

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