April 6, 1947
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
|Alma mater||Sacred Heart University|
|Honours||PhD, Humane Letters, Sacred Heart University|
John Dezso Ratzenberger (born April 6, 1947) 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.
John Dezso Ratzenberger was born on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947, 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. John's father, Dezso, was of Austrian and Hungarian descent, and John's mother was of Polish ancestry. Ratzenberger attended St. Ann's School in Bridgeport and then Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. In 1969, Ratzenberger worked at the Woodstock Festival, as a heavy equipment operator and as part of the crew building the stage. John moved to London in 1971 where he began his acting, writing, and directing career.
Ratzenberger began his career in the performing arts while living in London, England. Through the 1970s, he performed with Ray Hassett as the comedic theatrical duo Sal's Meat Market, which toured throughout Europe for eight years. Sal's Meat Market heavily influenced Peter Richardson and Nigel Planer as a duo in The Outer Limits and in The Comic Strip. 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.
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. Ratzenberger also came up with the idea for Cliff's trademark white socks, which he wore as a tribute to French comedian Jacques Tati. 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. 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.
- Hamm in the Toy Story series (1995, 1999, 2010, 2019)
- P.T. Flea, the Circus Ring Leader in A Bug's Life (1998)
- Yeti the Abominable Snowman in the Monsters, Inc. series (2001, 2013)
- The school of Moonfish in Finding Nemo (2003)
- The Underminer in The Incredibles series (2004, 2018)
- Mack the truck in the Cars series (2006, 2011, 2017)
- Mustafa the waiter in Ratatouille (2007)
- John in WALL-E (2008)
- Tom the construction worker in Up (2009)
- Gordon the guard in Brave (2012)
- Fritz in Inside Out (2015)
- Earl the Velociraptor in The Good Dinosaur (2015)
- Bill the crab in Finding Dory (2016)
- Juan Ortodoncia in Coco (2017)
- Fennwick the cyclops construction worker in Onward (2020)
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." John Ratzenberger voiced characters for other studios as well; he played Harland the Jet Tug in Disneytoon Studios' Planes (2013) and a mustached plane named Brodi in its sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014), 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. 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.
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, 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. 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.
Ratzenberger lived in London for 10 years. Since 1994, he has lived in Vashon, Washington. He married Georgia Stiny in 1984; during their 19 year marriage they had two children together before divorcing in 2004. He then married Julie Blichfeldt in November 2012.
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. In 1992 he sold Eco-Pack to Ranpak Corp.
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. He was outspoken in opposition of the 2010 health care reform bill, referring to it as socialism. 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. He considered running for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2012.
Ratzenberger endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012. 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. He praised his performance as president in 2017, saying he had done "a wonderful job as far as manufacturing is concerned."
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.
|1977||Twilight's Last Gleaming||Sgt. Kopecki|
|A Bridge Too Far||Lt. James Megellas|
|1978||Warlords of Atlantis||Fenn|
|1979||Hanover Street||Sergeant John Lucas|
|The Bitch||Hal Leonard|
|1980||The Empire Strikes Back||Major Bren Derlin|
|Superman II||Controller No. 1|
|The Good Soldier||Jimmy|
|1982||Battletruck||Rusty||AKA Warlords of the 21st Century|
|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|
|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|
|2003||Finding Nemo||Fish School||Voice|
|2004||The Incredibles||The Underminer|
|2006||Something New||Brian's Father|
|Cars||Mack, Hamm Truck, Abominable Snowplow, P.T. Flea Car||Voices|
|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|
|2009||Up||Construction Foreman Tom|
|Toy Story 3||Hamm||Voice|
|2011||Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation||Voice; Short film|
|Toy Story Toons: Small Fry||Hamm||Voice; Short film|
|Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex||Hamm||Voice; Short film|
|Super Buddies||Marvin "Gramps" Livingstone||Direct-to-video|
|In the Name of God||Reverend Thomas|
|2014||Planes: Fire & Rescue||Brodie||Voice|
|Russell Madness||Mick Vaughn|
|The Good Dinosaur||Earl the Velociraptor||Voice|
|2016||Finding Dory||Husband Crab (Bill)|
|Pup Star||Mutt||Voice; direct-to-video|
|2017||Pup Star: Better 2Gether||Salty|
|2018||Incredibles 2||The Underminer|
|2018||Shifting Gears||Conrad Baines|
|2019||Toy Story 4||Hamm|
|2020||Onward||Construction Worker Fennwick|
|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|
|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"|
|The Goldbergs||Digby Yates||Episode: "Food in a Geoffy"|
|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||Yeti, Bernard||Voice|
|2023||Poker Face||Abe||Episode: "The Night Shift"|
|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|
|2001||Toy Story Racer|
|2004||Trivial Pursuit: Unhinged||Himself|
|2005||The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer||The Underminer|
|2010||Toy Story 3: The Video Game||Hamm|
|2012||Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure|
|2014||Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes|
|2015||Disney Infinity 3.0|
|2016||Disney Magic Kingdoms|
|2018||Lego The Incredibles||Underminer|
|2019||Kingdom Hearts III||Hamm|
|2008–16||Toy Story: The Musical||Hamm||Voice|
|1978||Crown Court||No||No||Yes||1 episode|
|1990, 1991||Down Home||Yes||No||No|
|1994||Madman of the People||Yes||No||No||3 episodes|
|Evening Shade||Yes||No||No||1 episode|
|1996||The World's Most Incredible Animal Rescues||No||Yes||No||Executive producer|
|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|
- About John Archived April 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine from Ratzenberger's official website
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- List of Easter Sunday Dates 1900-1999
- John Ratzenberger Biography (1947–) from filmreference.com
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- "The Ratzenberger Attic". Archived from the original on October 12, 2008.
- The Mark Levin Show (wma) (Radio). May 8, 2008. Retrieved December 6, 2008.[permanent dead link]
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- 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.
- Toasting Cheers, Dennis A. Bjorklund, p.7
- The Joe Cook Program (Radio). July 26, 2012. http://joecookprogram.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/john-ratzenberger-interview/ Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- "Pixar's secret weapon: John Ratzenberger, Slate.com
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- "Planes Fire & Rescue (2014)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on May 14, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
- "Look! Up in the sky! It's an exclusive peek at 'Planes'!". USA Today.
- 'Monsters, Inc.' Voice Cast to Return for Disney+ Series (Exclusive)
- Giardina, Carolyn (January 26, 2022). "Skydance, Apple Push Back 'Luck' to August, Set Additional Voice Cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
- "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.
- Julie & T.J. (January 1, 2020). "The John Ratzenberger Easter Egg in Pixar's 'Soul' has Been Found!". Pixar Post. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
- "Revealed: Cheers star John Ratzenberger's secret love.. The bagpipes". February 22, 2010.
- 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.
- "John Ratzenberger weds Julie Blichfeldt". UPI. November 30, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
- 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.
- 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.
- "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.
- "Tea Party activists hit the Hill, arrested outside Pelosi's office". CNN Political Ticker. November 5, 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
- "'Cheer's' John Ratzenberger helps treasurer take oath". The Alliance Review. January 10, 2011.
- Rachel E. Stassen-Berger (November 5, 2009). "Pawlenty draws wallets fat ... and famous". Minneapolis Star Tribune.
- Obama, Romney turn to star power for help in NV – San Jose Mercury News
- "'The Only Candidate for Me': Pixar Icon Throws Support Behind Donald Trump". Fox News Insider. May 11, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
- "Trump critics will apologize in four years: 'Cheers' actor John Ratzenberger". Fox Business. August 15, 2017.
- USA Today - "'Cheers' mailman John Ratzenberger calls for US Postal Service support amid mail-in voting concerns"
- Rolling Stone on Yahoo! - "John Ratzenberger, Who Played Mailman Cliff on 'Cheers,' Has a Plan to Help USPS"
- "John Ratzenberger (Visual voices guide)".
- Giardina, Carolyn (January 26, 2022). "Skydance, Apple Push Back 'Luck' to August, Set Additional Voice Cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
- "Mom - Episode 7.01 - Audrey Hepburn and a Jalepeño Pepper - Promos + Press Release". SpoilerTV. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
- Dawn, Randee (September 17, 2019). "A mini-'Cheers' reunion is coming to TV! See the pics". Today. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
- "'Monsters, Inc.' Voice Cast to Return for Disney+ Series (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. April 9, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2019.