John Ratzenberger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Ratzenberger
Ratzenberger in a tuxedo
Ratzenberger at the 2011 Time 100 gala
Born
John Dezso Ratzenberger[1][2]

(1947-04-06) April 6, 1947 (age 75)
Alma materSacred Heart University
Occupations
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • director
Years active1973–present
Agents
  • Saskia Delp-Kullock
  • Global Artists
Political partyRepublican
Spouses
  • Georgia Stiny
    (m. 1984; div. 2004)
  • Julie Blichfeldt
    (m. 2012)
Children2
HonoursPhD, Humane Letters, Sacred Heart University
Websiteratzenberger.com

John Dezso Ratzenberger (born April 6, 1947)[1] is an American actor, comedian and director. He is best known for playing the character Cliff Clavin on the comedy series Cheers, for which he earned two Primetime Emmy nominations. He also played a role in the short-lived spin-off The Tortellis and in an episode of Wings, which was made by the same creators. Ratzenberger voiced various characters in Pixar Animation Studios' feature films, including Hamm in the Toy Story franchise, The Abominable Snowman in the Monsters, Inc. franchise, Mack in the Cars franchise, The Underminer in The Incredibles franchise, and many others.

Ratzenberger began his entertainment career while living in London in the 1970s. He acted in and wrote film and television through the 1970s and early 1980s before returning to America. At an audition for a role in a new sitcom, Ratzenberger created the character of know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin. Cheers (1982–1993) was a success and went on to run for 11 years. After Cheers, he began acting in voice roles for Pixar; his first role was as Hamm in Pixar's first feature film Toy Story (1995), and voiced other Pixar characters in every film and video game until 2020.

Early life[edit]

John Dezso Ratzenberger was born on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947,[3] in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Bertha Veronica (née Grochowski), and Dezső Alexander Ratzenberger, a WWII veteran who had been a combat engineer in the Philippines.[4][5] John's father, Dezso, was of Austrian and Hungarian descent, and John's mother was of Polish ancestry.[6] Ratzenberger attended St. Ann's School in Bridgeport and then Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.[1] In 1969, Ratzenberger worked at the Woodstock Festival, as a heavy equipment operator and as part of the crew building the stage.[7] John moved to London in 1971 where he began his acting, writing, and directing career.[1]

Career[edit]

Ratzenberger filming Made in America
Ratzenberger on the set of the series "Made in America"

Ratzenberger began his career in the performing arts while living in London, England.[1] Through the 1970s, he performed with Ray Hassett as the comedic theatrical duo Sal's Meat Market, which toured throughout Europe for eight years.[8] Sal's Meat Market heavily influenced Peter Richardson and Nigel Planer as a duo in The Outer Limits and in The Comic Strip.[9] His first role in a major feature film was as a patron in The Ritz (1976). Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ratzenberger appeared in various roles in feature films throughout Europe including: A Bridge Too Far, filmed in Holland, as Lieutenant James Megellas; Superman, as a missile controller; Superman II, as the NASA control man; Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as Major Derlin; Outland as a doomed mine worker named Tarlow; and Gandhi, filmed in India, playing an American lieutenant.

Cheers[edit]

Ratzenberger played mail carrier Cliff Clavin on the sitcom Cheers. As an improv artist, he asked the producers if they had written a bar know-it-all character; the producers decided it was a great idea, and the character of Cliff Clavin was born.[10] Ratzenberger also came up with the idea for Cliff's trademark white socks, which he wore as a tribute to French comedian Jacques Tati.[11] Cliff became known for his outlandish stories, trivia, and his trademarked (and oft repeated), "It's a little known fact..." Cliff and Norm, the primary customer characters of the iconic bar, Cheers, played buddies who met at Cheers to talk about the day or nothing in particular. Ratzenberger was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1985 and again in 1986.[12][13] Ratzenberger provided the voice for an animated version of Cliff on The Simpsons sixth-season episode "Fear of Flying". He also played the role in the short-lived spin-off The Tortellis and in an episode of Wings, which was made by the same creators.

Pixar[edit]

John Ratzenberger has had a voice role in each of Pixar's first 22 films.[14] His roles include:

John Ratzenberger's tenure at Pixar was parodied during the end credits of Cars, where his character, Mack, watches car-themed versions of Pixar films (Toy Car Story, Monster Trucks, Inc., and A Bug's Life, the latter of which references the Volkswagen Beetle). Mack notes that all the characters that John Ratzenberger has played had excellent voice actors until he realizes that they are performed by the same actor, at which point he remarks, "They're just using the same actor over and over," and asks, "What kind of cut-rate production is this?!"

Ratzenberger said that his favorite Pixar character was P.T. Flea, because "...in real life, I always get a kick out of those kinds of characters, people who just go into a rage for [no] explicable reason. He was always on edge. His blood pressure was always way over the top, and everything that he did was done in a panicked state. So it was a lot of fun to play him."[15] John Ratzenberger voiced characters for other studios as well; he played Harland the Jet Tug in Disneytoon Studios' Planes (2013)[16][17] and a mustached plane named Brodi in its sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014),[18][19] Additionally, Ratzenberger reprised his role as the Abominable Snowman in the Disney+-exclusive series Monsters at Work, which is set after the events of Monsters, Inc.[20] Ratzenberger has also voiced a character named Rootie in Skydance Animation's first film, Luck, which continues his collaboration in animation with former Pixar filmmaker John Lasseter.[21]

Soul, Pixar's 23rd feature film, is the first Pixar film not to include Ratzenberger's voice or personal involvement. The film's director, Pete Docter, hinted to audiences that Ratzenberger makes a "cameo" in the film,[22] but the cameo was subsequently confirmed by co-director Kemp Powers to be an animated appearance instead of a voice role, meaning Ratzenberger himself technically did not participate in the film.[23] Docter subsequently explained on the audio commentary track for Soul's home media releases that he wanted to come up with something more subdued for Ratzenberger's cameo in the film rather than go the traditional route of having a voice cameo.

Personal life[edit]

Ratzenberger lived in London for 10 years.[24] Since 1994, he has lived in Vashon, Washington.[25] He married Georgia Stiny in 1984; during their 19 year marriage they had two children together before divorcing in 2004.[4] He then married Julie Blichfeldt in November 2012.[26]

He developed a packaging-alternatives product made from biodegradable and non-toxic recycled paper as a safe alternative to foam peanuts and plastic bubble wrap. This product, SizzlePak, was manufactured by his company Eco-Pak Industries, which he co-founded in 1989.[27] In 1992 he sold Eco-Pack to Ranpak Corp.[27]

Political views[edit]

Ratzenberger is a Republican. During the 2008 presidential race, Ratzenberger campaigned for John McCain, appearing with former Cheers co-star Kelsey Grammer at several Republican party events.[28][29] He was outspoken in opposition of the 2010 health care reform bill, referring to it as socialism.[30] On January 17, 2010, he appeared and endorsed Scott Brown for the United States Senate at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ratzenberger campaigned for Republican Josh Mandel of Ohio for state treasurer in 2010 and served as master of ceremonies for Mandel's inauguration into the position in 2011.[31] He considered running for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2012.[32]

Ratzenberger endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012.[33] He appeared on Your World with Neil Cavuto to support Donald Trump's candidacy during the 2016 presidential race, shortly after Trump was declared the presumptive Republican nominee.[34] He praised his performance as president in 2017, saying he had done "a wonderful job as far as manufacturing is concerned."[35]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ratzenberger expressed his support for the United States Postal Service (USPS) in 2020 via Cameo and suggested people who wished to help them donate and buy presents for Christmas early.[36][37]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Ritz Patron
1977 Twilight's Last Gleaming Sgt. Kopecki
A Bridge Too Far Lt. James Megellas
Valentino Newshound
1978 Warlords of Atlantis Fenn
Superman Missile controller
1979 Hanover Street Sergeant John Lucas
Arabian Adventure Achmed
Yanks Corporal Cook
The Bitch Hal Leonard
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Major Bren Derlin
Motel Hell Drummer
Superman II Controller No. 1
1981 Outland Tarlow
Ragtime Policeman
Reds Communist Leader
The Good Soldier Jimmy
1982 Battletruck Rusty AKA Warlords of the 21st Century
Firefox Chief Peck
Gandhi American Lieutenant
1984 Protocol Security Guard on TV Uncredited
1985 The Falcon and the Snowman Detective
1987 House II: The Second Story Bill
1987 Timestalkers General Joe Brodsky
1988 She's Having a Baby Himself
1995 Toy Story[38] Hamm Voice
1997 That Darn Cat Dusty
Bad Day on the Block Al Calavito
One Night Stand Phil
1998 A Bug's Life[38] P.T. Flea Voice
1999 Toy Story 2[38] Hamm
2001 Monsters, Inc.[38] Yeti
2002 Spirited Away[38] Aniyaku Voice
2003 Finding Nemo[38] Fish School Voice
2004 The Incredibles[38] The Underminer
2006 Something New Brian's Father
Cars[38] Mack, Hamm Truck, Abominable Snowplow, P.T. Flea Car Voices
2007 Ratatouille[38] Mustafa Voice
Your Friend the Rat P.T. Flea Voice; Short film; direct-to-video; archive footage from A Bug's Life
2008 The Village Barbershop Art Leroldi
WALL-E[38] John Voice
2009 Up[38] Construction Foreman Tom
2010 What If... Mike
Toy Story 3[38] Hamm Voice
2011 Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation Voice; Short film
Cars 2[38] Mack Voice
Toy Story Toons: Small Fry Hamm Voice; Short film
2012 Brave[38] Gordon Voice
Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex Hamm Voice; Short film
The Woodcarver Ernest
2013 Monsters University[38] Yeti Voice
Planes[38] Harland
Super Buddies Marvin "Gramps" Livingstone Direct-to-video
In the Name of God Reverend Thomas
2014 Planes: Fire & Rescue[38] Brodie Voice
2015 Inside Out[38] Fritz
Russell Madness Mick Vaughn
The Good Dinosaur[38] Earl the Velociraptor Voice
2016 Finding Dory Husband Crab (Bill)
Pup Star[38] Mutt Voice; direct-to-video
2017 Pup Star: Better 2Gether[38] Salty
Cars 3[38] Mack Voice
Coco Juan Ortodoncia
2018 Incredibles 2[38] The Underminer
2018 Shifting Gears Conrad Baines
2019 Toy Story 4 Hamm
2020 Onward Construction Worker Fennwick
2022 Luck[39] Rootie

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1979 Secret Army Staff Sergeant Drexler Episode: "The Execution"
1980 ITV Playhouse Tom Phillips Episode: "Friends in Space"
1981 The Good Soldier Jimmy Television film
Goliath Awaits Bill Sweeney
Private Schulz American Newsreel Commentator Uncredited voice; episode #1.5
Code Red Inspector Ray Allen Episode: "All That Glitters"
1982 Hill Street Blues Phony Cop Episode: "Some Like it Hot-Wired"
1982–93 Cheers Cliff Clavin 274 episodes; directed 4 episodes
1983 Wizards and Warriors Archie Episode: "The Dungeon of Death"
1984 Magnum, P.I. Walt Brewster Episode: "The Legacy of Garwood Huddle"
1985 St. Elsewhere Cliff Clavin Episode: "Cheers"
The Love Boat Marty Elder Episode: "A Day in Port"
1986 Combat Academy Mr. Barnett Television film
1987 Timestalkers General Joe Brodsky
The Tortellis Cliff Clavin Episode: "Frankie Comes to Dinner"
1988 Small World Morris Zapp 6 episodes
Mickey's 60th Birthday Cliff Clavin Television film
1990 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Episode: "Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Celebration"
Wings Episode: "The Story of Joe"
The Earth Day Special Television film
Camp Cucamonga Marvin Schector
1990–92 Captain Planet and the Planeteers Rigger Voice; 24 episodes
1992 Nurses Mr. Hafner Episode: "Illicit Transfers"
1993 Moon Over Miami Norman Rust Episode: "Farewell, My Lovelies"
1994, 2014 The Simpsons Cliff Clavin, CGI Homer Simpson Voices; 2 episodes: "Fear of Flying", "Treehouse of Horror XXV"
1995 Murphy Brown Felix Episode: "A Rat's Tale"
Sister, Sister Gus Kiamilikimaka 2 episodes
1996 Caroline in the City Mr. Berman Episode: "Caroline and Richard's Mom"
Toy Story Treats Hamm Voice
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Hinky Voice; episode: "The Pied Piper"
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Bob/Santa Claus Episode: "Sabrina Claus"
The Detectives Edsel Episode: "Go West Old Man"
1998 Remember WENN Mr. Abernathy Episode: "And If I Die Before I Sleep"
2000 Touched by an Angel Merl Episode: "Monica's Bad Day"
Pigs Next Door Ike Stump Recurring voice
2001 That '70s Show Glen Episode: "Holy Craps"
The Drew Carey Show Himself/Various Episode: "Drew Live III"
2002 Frasier Cliff Clavin Episode: "Cheerful Goodbyes"
The Pennsylvania Miners' Story Thomas "Tucker" Foy Television film
2003 8 Simple Rules Fred Doyle 4 episodes
2004–08 Made in America Himself Host; 97 episodes
2006 Rodney Himself Episode: "Celebrity"
2008 Our First Christmas Joe Noll Hallmark movie
2011 Melissa & Joey Arnie Episode: "A House Divided"
2012 Matchmaker Santa George Hallmark movie
2012–14 Drop Dead Diva Larry Kaswell 3 episodes
2013 Bones Bill Schumacher Episode: "The Cheat in the Retreat"
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Stu Kirchoff Episode: "Torch Song"
2013, 2014 Legit Walter Nugent 10 episodes
Franklin & Bash Judge Elliot Reid 3 episodes
2014 How Murray Saved Christmas Officer Bender Voice; television special
2015 The McCarthys Charlie Ellis Episode: "Hall of Fame"
Hell's Kitchen Himself Episode: "11 Chefs Compete"
2017 Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Major Bren Derlin Voice; episode: "The Storms of Taul"
2019 Mom Stan Episode: "Audrey Hepburn and a Jalapeño Pepper"[40]
The Goldbergs Digby Yates Episode: "Food in a Geoffy"[41]
Forky Asks a Question Hamm Voice; Short films: "What is Money?", "What is a Friend?"
2020 Just Roll with It Grandpa 4 episodes
Bob Hearts Abishola Hank Episode: "Randy's a Wrangler"
2021 Monsters at Work[42] Yeti, Bernard Voice
2023 Poker Face Abe Episode: "The Night Shift"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role
1995 Toy Story Hamm
1996 Toy Story: Activity Center
Disney's Animated Storybook: Toy Story
1999 Toy Story 2: Activity Center
Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue[38]
2001 Toy Story Racer
2002 Monsters, Inc. Yeti
2004 Trivial Pursuit: Unhinged Himself
2005 The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer The Underminer
2006 Cars Mack
2009 Cars Race-O-Rama
2010 Toy Story 3: The Video Game Hamm
2012 Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure
2013 Disney Infinity
2014 Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0
2016 Disney Magic Kingdoms
2018 Lego The Incredibles Underminer
2019 Kingdom Hearts III[38] Hamm

Musical[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008–16 Toy Story: The Musical Hamm Voice

Production credits[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1978 Crown Court No No Yes 1 episode
1980 ITV Playhouse No No Yes
1990 Sydney Yes No No
1988–91 Cheers Yes No No 4 episodes
1990, 1991 Down Home Yes No No
1994 Madman of the People Yes No No 3 episodes
Locals No Yes No Executive producer
TV Movie
Evening Shade Yes No No 1 episode
Sister, Sister Yes No No
1996 Pearl Yes No No
1996 The World's Most Incredible Animal Rescues No Yes No Executive producer
TV Special
1997 The World's Most Incredible Animal Rescues: Part 2 No Yes No
1998 The World's Most Incredible Animal Rescues: Part 3 No Yes No
2010 Industrial Tsunami No Yes No Documentary

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e About John Archived April 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine from Ratzenberger's official website
  2. ^ "John Ratzenberger".
  3. ^ List of Easter Sunday Dates 1900-1999
  4. ^ a b John Ratzenberger Biography (1947–) from filmreference.com
  5. ^ "Last Night's Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn't See". PEOPLE.com.
  6. ^ "The Ratzenberger Attic". Archived from the original on October 12, 2008.
  7. ^ The Mark Levin Show (wma) (Radio). May 8, 2008. Retrieved December 6, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Sal's Meat Market". Unfinishedhistories.com. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  9. ^ Wilmut, Roger (1989). Didn't You Kill My Mother in Law?- the story of alternative comedy in Britain from the Comedy Store to Saturday Night Live. UK: Methuen. p. 58. ISBN 0-413-17390-9.
  10. ^ Toasting Cheers, Dennis A. Bjorklund, p.7
  11. ^ The Joe Cook Program (Radio). July 26, 2012. http://joecookprogram.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/john-ratzenberger-interview/ Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  12. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  13. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  14. ^ "Pixar's secret weapon: John Ratzenberger, Slate.com
  15. ^ Spelling, Ian (May 21, 2009). "John Ratzenberger, Pixar's good luck charm, on Up, Bugs and Toys 3". Sci Fi Wire. Retrieved May 22, 2009.
  16. ^ "Disney's "Planes" Hi-res Stills, Fun Facts and Activity Sheets". Stitch Kingdom. May 9, 2013. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  17. ^ Hill, Jim (August 6, 2013). "World premiere of Disney "Planes" turns Hollywood Boulevard into a celebrity-filled landing strip". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  18. ^ "Planes Fire & Rescue (2014)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on May 14, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  19. ^ "Look! Up in the sky! It's an exclusive peek at 'Planes'!". USA Today.
  20. ^ 'Monsters, Inc.' Voice Cast to Return for Disney+ Series (Exclusive)
  21. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 26, 2022). "Skydance, Apple Push Back 'Luck' to August, Set Additional Voice Cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  22. ^ "Pixar's Soul director comments on John Ratzenberger's mysterious voice cameo". Cinema Blend. December 26, 2020. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  23. ^ Julie & T.J. (January 1, 2020). "The John Ratzenberger Easter Egg in Pixar's 'Soul' has Been Found!". Pixar Post. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  24. ^ "Revealed: Cheers star John Ratzenberger's secret love.. The bagpipes". February 22, 2010.
  25. ^ Payne, Patti (August 26, 2016). "Patti Payne's Cool Pads: $4M Vashon Island waterfront compound 'Cheers' actor John Ratzenberger built hits market". Puget Sound Business Journal.
  26. ^ "John Ratzenberger weds Julie Blichfeldt". UPI. November 30, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  27. ^ a b Bukro, Casey (November 10, 1992). "Packaging Gets Leaner, 'Greener'At Technology Expo". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 4, 2020. "I jumped on the environmental bandwagon in 1967", says Ratzenberger, who in 1989 co-founded Eco-Pak Industries in Kent, Wash.
  28. ^ John Ratzenberger and Kelsey Grammer greeted McCain supporters, called voters on behalf of the Republican ticket, participated in voter-registration activities at the local campaign headquarters, and held a McCain victory rally in Henderson, Nevada. "Political emissaries descend on valley: Richardson, Grammer rally voters at events". Las Vegas Review-Journal. October 11, 2008. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  29. ^ "Stars stump in Las Vegas Valley". NBC-affiliated KVBC website. October 11, 2008. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  30. ^ "Tea Party activists hit the Hill, arrested outside Pelosi's office". CNN Political Ticker. November 5, 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  31. ^ "'Cheer's' John Ratzenberger helps treasurer take oath". The Alliance Review. January 10, 2011.
  32. ^ Rachel E. Stassen-Berger (November 5, 2009). "Pawlenty draws wallets fat ... and famous". Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  33. ^ Obama, Romney turn to star power for help in NV – San Jose Mercury News
  34. ^ "'The Only Candidate for Me': Pixar Icon Throws Support Behind Donald Trump". Fox News Insider. May 11, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  35. ^ "Trump critics will apologize in four years: 'Cheers' actor John Ratzenberger". Fox Business. August 15, 2017.
  36. ^ USA Today - "'Cheers' mailman John Ratzenberger calls for US Postal Service support amid mail-in voting concerns"
  37. ^ Rolling Stone on Yahoo! - "John Ratzenberger, Who Played Mailman Cliff on 'Cheers,' Has a Plan to Help USPS"
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "John Ratzenberger (Visual voices guide)".
  39. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 26, 2022). "Skydance, Apple Push Back 'Luck' to August, Set Additional Voice Cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  40. ^ "Mom - Episode 7.01 - Audrey Hepburn and a Jalepeño Pepper - Promos + Press Release". SpoilerTV. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  41. ^ Dawn, Randee (September 17, 2019). "A mini-'Cheers' reunion is coming to TV! See the pics". Today. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  42. ^ "'Monsters, Inc.' Voice Cast to Return for Disney+ Series (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. April 9, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2019.

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