John Ratzenberger

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John Ratzenberger
John Ratzenberger 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Ratzenberger at the 2011 Time 100 gala
Born John Dezso Ratzenberger[1]
(1947-04-06) April 6, 1947 (age 71)
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
Alma mater Sacred Heart University
Occupation Actor, voice actor, entrepreneur
Years active 1975–present
Known for Cliff Clavin in Cheers
Various Pixar film roles
Television Cheers
John Ratzenberger's Made in America
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)
Georgia Stiny
(m. 1982; div. 2004)

Julie Blichfeldt
(m. 2012)
Children 2
Website ratzenberger.com

John Dezso Ratzenberger (born April 6, 1947)[1] is an American actor, voice actor, and entrepreneur. He played Cliff Clavin in the TV show Cheers, for which he earned two Emmy nominations, and plays voice roles in Pixar Animation Studios' films, including Hamm in the Toy Story franchise, The Underminer in The Incredibles franchise, and Mack in the Cars franchise. He is the only actor to appear in all of Pixar's feature films, and with minor appearances in major films such as Superman and The Empire Strikes Back, he is one of the most successful actors of all time in terms of box-office receipts.[2]

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Ratzenberger began his entertainment career while living in London in the 1970s. He had minor film and television roles throughout the late 70s and early 1980s before landing the role of the know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin on Cheers (1982–1993), a role he portrayed throughout the show's eleven seasons. His first Pixar role was the voice of Hamm the Piggy Bank in Toy Story (1995) and has voiced Pixar characters in films and video games ever since. From 2004 to 2008 he hosted the TV documentary series Made in America. Outside of acting, he has promoted American entrepreneurship and manufacturing, and campaigned for several Republican candidates.

Early life[edit]

Ratzenberger was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Bertha Veronica (née Grochowski), who worked for Remington Arms, and Dezso Alexander Ratzenberger, a Texaco truck driver.[3][4] His father was of Austrian and Hungarian descent, and his mother was of Polish ancestry.[5] He attended St. Ann's School in Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.[1] In 1969, Ratzenberger was a tractor operator at the Woodstock Festival.[6] He moved to London in 1971 and stayed there for 10 years.[1]

Career[edit]

Ratzenberger was a house framer[7] living in London when he began his career in the performing arts.[1] Through the 1970s, he performed with Ray Hassett as the comedic theatrical duo Sal's Meat Market, which toured across the UK.[8] Peter Richardson and Nigel Planer as The Outer Limits and in The Comic Strip were heavily influenced by Sal's Meat Market.[9] His first role was a patron in The Ritz (1976). Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ratzenberger appeared in various minor roles in major feature films, including Firefox; A Bridge Too Far, as Lieutenant James Megellas; Superman, as a missile controller; Superman II, as the NASA control man; Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as Major Bren Derlin; Motel Hell as a drummer; Outland as a doomed mine worker named Tarlow; and Gandhi, playing an American lieutenant (Ratzenberger's voice was dubbed over by an uncredited voice actor).

Cheers[edit]

Ratzenberger at the 1992 Primetime Emmy Awards

Ratzenberger played mail carrier Cliff Clavin on the sitcom Cheers. He had read for the part of Norm Peterson, but after the audition, he sensed that they were not going to give him the part. Sensing an opportunity, he asked if they had written a bar know-it-all, which the producers decided was a great idea.[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 of plausible half-truths, uninteresting trivia, and misinformation, and in general for being a pretentious blowhard. Cliff and Norm, the primary customer characters, became iconic bar buddies. Ratzenberger provided the voice for an animated version of Cliff on The Simpsons sixth-season episode "Fear of Flying". Ratzenberger was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1985 and again in 1986.[12][13]

When Paramount Television licensed the look of the Cheers bar to the Host International subsidiary of Host Marriott Services for use in airports in the U.S. and New Zealand, the group also created animatronic barflies. They were called "Hank" and "Bob"; Ratzenberger and George Wendt claimed Hank and Bob resembled them, and in January 1993, sued Host for using their likenesses without permission.[14] The case languished in court for eight years before all sides settled in 2001.[15]

Pixar[edit]

Ratzenberger has had a voice part in all of Pixar's feature films made to date, ranging from main characters to characters who appear in only one scene.[16] His roles include:

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). Mack notes that all the characters Ratzenberger has played were excellent 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?!"

His favorite of his Pixar characters 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."[7] Although technically not Pixar films, Ratzenberger voiced Harland the jet tug in DisneyToon Studios' Planes (2013)[17][18] and a mustached plane named Brodi in its sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014).,[19] both of which are set in Pixar's Cars franchise.[20]

Reality show appearances[edit]

During season six of Last Comic Standing, Ratzenberger was a talent scout with his former Cheers co-star George Wendt.

On March 2, 2007, he replaced Vincent Pastore (who had quit after one week of training) on the fourth season of the American version of Dancing with the Stars.[21] He was partnered with professional ballroom dancer Edyta Sliwinska, who had been Pastore's partner; the two were the sixth couple to be eliminated from the show.

On December 3, 2009, Ratzenberger appeared on an episode of American Chopper to help promote awareness of the Iraq Star Foundation.

On June 26, 2011, Ratzenberger was asked by NASCAR to give the shouting command for the 2011 Toyota Save-Mart 350 at Sonoma. Ratzenberger accepted and gave the "Gentlemen, start your engines" command.

On April 23, 2015, Ratzenberger appeared as a guest judge on the 14th season of Hell's Kitchen for an alcohol challenge, in nod to his role on Cheers.

Additional voice, TV, and film work[edit]

  • Guest starred as Walter Brewster in an episode of Magnum, P.I. in 1984
  • Appeared in the sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Bob or Santa Claus (1997)
  • Hosted the Travel Channel TV series John Ratzenberger's Made in America, about things made in the USA (2003–2008)
  • Guest-starred in four episodes of the first season of John Ritter's sitcom 8 Simple Rules as Paul Hennessy's overly friendly neighbor Fred Doyle
  • Hosts the Wildcard section in the PC version of the board game Trivial Pursuit
  • Also appeared on That '70s Show as Glen, a man stuck in an awful marriage with his high-school sweetheart whose negative example gives Eric second thoughts about marrying Donna
  • Played Thomas Foy in the TV movie The Pennsylvania Miners' Story
  • As Shelly Cole star in The Village Barbershop (2008), written and directed by Chris Ford[22]
  • Made an appearance in Bill Nye the Science Guy
  • Provided the voice of Rigger in the animated series Captain Planet and the Planeteers
  • Made an appearance on British show Live from Studio Five (February 17, 2010).
  • Appeared in television commercials for the Pitney Bowes personal post office, ended every commercial saying "Hey, I look good in red!"
  • Appeared in commercials for Quality Hotels and Zaxby's restaurant chain (2010)
  • Plays Mike the Angel in What If..., a Pure Flix Entertainment/Jenkins Entertainment movie release in 2010, also starring Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, and Debby Ryan[23]
  • Reprised his role of Cliff Clavin in an episode of Frasier[24] and - along with his Cheers partner, George Wendt - an episode of Wings called "The Story of Joe"
  • Hosted the documentary Industrial Tsunami, intended to wake Americans up to the shortage of skilled workers threatening the existence of American companies and entire industries
  • Appeared in the final episode of Secret Army entitled "The Execution" as a Canadian officer who is bribed by Standartenfuhrer Kessler's mistress Madeleine Duclos to spring Kessler from the POW camp where he is incarcerated
  • Starred in "A House Divided," the 28th episode of the first season of Melissa & Joey as Arnie the neighbor
  • Voiced the bathhouse's assistant manager, Aniyaku, in the English dub of Spirited Away
  • Made a cameo in the DisneyToon Studios animation Planes (2013) playing Harland the pushback vehicle
  • Made commercials for Ontario's The Beer Store with his Cheers partner, George Wendt
  • Appeared in Drop Dead Diva as Kim Kaswell's estranged father

Other work[edit]

Ratzenberger 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 was manufactured by his company Eco-Pak Industries, which he later sold.[25]

Ratzenberger co-authored We've Got it Made in America: A Common Man's Salute to an Uncommon Country (ISBN 1-931722-84-6), published in 2006.

He also co-founded the Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs Foundation,[26] dedicated to raising awareness among young people of skilled trades and engineering disciplines.[27]

In 2010, Ratzenberger became affiliated with and now represents the Center for America (formerly the Foundation for Fair Civil Justice) to further develop his work and increase awareness about the skilled worker shortage facing the United States and the changes needed to positively impact and increase the number of skilled workers.[28] He joined as a board member in 2010.[28] CFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to "educate, motivate, and empower the American people to understand they have the greatest stake in removing obstacles to a fair civil justice system, innovation, entrepreneurism, and job creation."[29] CFA creates multi-media educational programs, publications, and website features that reach millions of Americans through radio, television, and the internet."[29]

In 2016, Ratzenberger launched thegiftbox.com,[30] an e-commerce website that allows customers to subscribe to a variety of monthly boxes.

Personal life[edit]

Ratzenberger has two children, James John (born 1987), and Nina Kathrine (born 1989), both from a 19-year marriage to Georgia Stiny that ended in divorce in 2004.

After dating for nearly four years, Ratzenberger married Julie Blichfeldt (then 46 years old) on November 6, 2012.[31] Both Ratzenberger and Blichfeldt are described as "avid outdoors enthusiasts, philanthropists, and activists".[31]

Political views[edit]

Ratzenberger, a Republican, said he considered running for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2012.[32]

During the 2008 presidential race, Ratzenberger campaigned for John McCain, appearing with former Cheers co-star Kelsey Grammer at several Republican party events.[33][34] He also has been outspoken in opposition of the 2010 health care reform bill, referring to it as socialism.[35] He endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012.[36] 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.[37]

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 the State Treasurer position during the 2010 election and on January 10, 2011, served as master of ceremonies for Mandel's swearing into office.

In response to the 2012 Aurora shooting, he said "Hollywood has to, at some point, admit that what they produce does affect the minds of people.... If you just want to shock 'em... society will pay the price for that at some point."[11]

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 Uncredited
1982 Battletruck Rusty AKA Warlords of the 21st Century
Firefox Chief Peck
Gandhi American Lieutenant Voice dubbed over
1984 Protocol Security Guard on TV Uncredited
1985 The Falcon and the Snowman Detective
1987 House II: The Second Story Bill
1995 Toy Story Hamm The Piggy Bank Voice
1997 That Darn Cat Dusty
Bad Day on the Block Al Calavito
One Night Stand Phil
1998 A Bug's Life P.T. Flea Voice
1999 Toy Story 2 Hamm
2001 Monsters, Inc. The Abominable Snowman
2002 Spirited Away Assistant Manager
2003 Finding Nemo School of Moonfish
2004 The Incredibles The Underminer
2006 Something New Brian's Father Uncredited
Cars Mack / Hamm the Piggy Truck / The Abominable Snowplow / P.T. Flea Voices
2007 Ratatouille Mustafa The Waiter Voice
2008 The Village Barbershop Art Leroldi
WALL-E John Voice
2009 Up Tom The Construction Worker
2010 What If... Mike The Angel
Toy Story 3 Hamm Voice
2011 Hawaiian Vacation Voice; short film
Small Fry
Cars 2 Mack Voice
2012 Brave Gordon The Guard
Partysaurus Rex Hamm Voice; short film
The Woodcarver Ernest
2013 Monsters University The Abominable Snowman Voice
Planes Harland The Pitty
Super Buddies Marvin "Gramps" Livingstone Video
In the Name of God Reverend Thomas
2014 Planes: Fire & Rescue Brodie Voice
2015 Inside Out Fritz
Russell Madness Mick Vaughn
The Good Dinosaur Earl The Velociraptor Voice
2016 Finding Dory Bill the Husband Crab
2017 Cars 3 Mack
Coco Juan Ortodoncia
2018 Incredibles 2 The Underminer
Ralph Breaks the Internet Pixar characters Voice cameo
2019 Toy Story 4 Hamm Voice; in production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1979 Secret Army Staff Sergeant Dexter Episode: "The Execution"
1980 ITV Playhouse Tom Phillips Episode: "Friends in Space"
1981 The Good Soldier Jimmy Television film
Private Schulz American Newsreel Commentator Voice; Uncredited; Episode #1.5
Goliath Awaits Bill Sweeney Television film
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 268 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 The Tortellis Cliff Clavin Episode: "Frankie Comes to Dinner"
Timestalkers General Joe Brodsky Television film
1988 Small World Morris Zapp 6 episodes
Mickey's 60th Birthday Cliff Clavin Television film
1990 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Cliff Clavin Episode: "Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Celebration"
Camp Cucamonga Marvin Schector Television film
The Earth Day Special Cliff Clavin Television special
Wings Cliff Clavin Episode: "The Story of Joe"
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"
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"
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"
2011 Melissa & Joey Arnie Episode: "A House Divided"
2012 Matchmaker Santa George Television film
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"
2013–14 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

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
1996 Toy Story: Activity Center Hamm The Piggy Bank
Animated Storybook: Toy Story
1999 Toy Story 2: Activity Center
Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue
2001 Toy Story Racer
Monsters, Inc. The Abominable Snowman
2003 Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure Hamm
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 Hamm / Mack / Underminer / P.T. Flea / Mustafa the Waiter / Abominable Snowman / Tom the Construction Worker
2013 Disney Infinity Hamm
2016 Disney Magic Kingdoms
2017 Cars 3: Driven to Win Mack
2018 Lego The Incredibles The Underminer
2019 Kingdom Hearts III Hamm

Other[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008–2016 Toy Story: The Musical Hamm The Piggy Bank Voice

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e About John Archived April 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. from Ratzenberger's official website
  2. ^ Alcorn, Stacey (2016-04-02). "John Ratzenberger - American Made". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  3. ^ John Ratzenberger Biography (1947–) from filmreference.com
  4. ^ "Last Night's Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn't See". PEOPLE.com.
  5. ^ "The Ratzenberger Attic". Archived from the original on 2008-10-12.
  6. ^ The Mark Levin Show (wma) (Radio). May 8, 2008. Retrieved December 6, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ "Sal's Meat Market – Unfinished Histories". Unfinishedhistories.com. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  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. ^ a b 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 2018-01-30.
  13. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  14. ^ "Norm and Cliff Fight Cheers Robots". go.com.
  15. ^ Bar Association Plus, Norm and Cliff settle Cheers robot lawsuit from the Entertainment Weekly website
  16. ^ "Pixar's secret weapon: John Ratzenberger, Slate.com slideshow
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Planes Fire & Rescue (2014)". British Film Institute. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  20. ^ "Look! Up in the sky! It's an exclusive peek at 'Planes'!".
  21. ^ "'Dancing' adds Cliff from 'Cheers'". CNN. Associated Press. February 20, 2007. Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  22. ^ "www.thevillagebarbershop.com". www.thevillagebarbershop.com. Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  23. ^ "育毛や発毛に効果があるシャンプーの種類についてヰミゼゥ". thewhatifmovie.com.
  24. ^ "Cheerful Goodbyes". Frasier. Season 9. Episode 21. April 30, 2002. OCLC 124055292. NBC.
  25. ^ About John: Innovator Archived April 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. from Ratzenberger's official website
  26. ^ Official website of the Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs Foundation
  27. ^ "Early recruitment: Foundation draws youth to careers in manufacturing". Industrial Engineer. May 2009. p. 12.
  28. ^ a b "John Ratzenberger – Fiddlers Bay Productions". ratzenberger.com.
  29. ^ a b "foundationforfairciviljustice.org". Archived from the original on November 19, 2010.
  30. ^ TheGiftBox.com. "Actor John Ratzenberger Launches TheGiftBox.com". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  31. ^ a b "John Ratzenberger weds Julie Blichfeldt". UPI. November 30, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  32. ^ Rachel E. Stassen-Berger (November 5, 2009). "Pawlenty draws wallets fat ... and famous". Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ "Stars stump in Las Vegas Valley". NBC-affiliated KVBC website. October 11, 2008. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
  35. ^ "Tea Party activists hit the Hill, arrested outside Pelosi's office". CNN Political Ticker. November 5, 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  36. ^ Obama, Romney turn to star power for help in NV – San Jose Mercury News
  37. ^ "'The Only Candidate for Me': Pixar Icon Throws Support Behind Donald Trump". Fox News Insider. May 11, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.

External links[edit]