John Dezso Ratzenberger (born April 6, 1947) is an American actor, voice actor, director, producer, writer and entrepreneur. He played Cliff Clavin on the TV show Cheers, for which he earned two Emmy nominations, and plays voice roles in every Pixar Animation Studios film, including Hamm in the Toy Story franchise, The Underminer in The Incredibles franchise, and Mack in the Cars franchise. He is the only voice actor to appear in every Pixar feature film, 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.
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 creating, and then 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 in Toy Story (1995), and he 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.
Ratzenberger was born on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947, inBridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Bertha Veronica Ratzenberger (née Grochowski), who worked for Remington Arms, and Dezso Alexander Ratzenberger, a Texaco truck driver. His father was of Austrian and Hungarian descent, and his mother was of Polish ancestry. He attended St. Ann's School in Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. In 1969, Ratzenberger was a tractor operator at the Woodstock Festival. He moved to London in 1971 and stayed there for 10 years.
Ratzenberger was a house framer living in London when he began his career in the performing arts. Through the 1970s, he performed with Ray Hassett as the comedic theatrical duo Sal's Meat Market, which toured across the UK. Peter Richardson and Nigel Planer as The Outer Limits and in The Comic Strip were heavily influenced by Sal's Meat Market. 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 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); and Hamm in the Thomas & Friends spin-off, Teletubbies!.
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. 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 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.
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. The case languished in court for eight years before all sides settled in 2001.
Ratzenberger has had a voice part in all of Pixar's feature films, ranging from main characters to characters who appear in only one scene.
|A Bug's Life||P.T. Flea||1998|
|Toy Story 2||Hamm||1999|
|Finding Nemo||School of fish||2003|
|Toy Story 3||Hamm||2010|
|The Good Dinosaur||2015|
|Toy Story 4||Hamm||2019|