PROFILE
Name:
John Ratzenberger
Birth Date:
April 6, 1947
Birth Place:
Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
Height:
5' 9" (1.75 m)
Nationality:
American
BIOGRAPHY
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Cheers

Background:

John Ratzenberger is a two time Emmy nominated American actor of film, TV and stage. After several years working on stage, the actor began his screen career and was soon established as a solid character actor thanks to his performances in such classics as “Superman: The Movie” (1978) and “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980). He, however, did not reach stardom until he landed the landmark role of postman Cliff Clavin on the NBC hit series “Cheers,” which ran from 1982 to 1993. The role brought the actor his Emmy nominations and more recently, the 2006 TV Land Legend Award. Ratzenberger is also known for his long running collaboration with Pixar and has been considered by the studio as a “good luck charm.” He has appeared in the following Pixar films: “Toy Story” ((1995), “Toy Story 2” (1999), “A Bug's Life” (1998), “Monsters Inc.” (2001), “Finding Nemo” (2003), “The Incredibles” (2004), “Cars” (2006) and “Ratatouille” (2007). He hosted the nationally televised show “Made in America” from 2004 to 2005.

Ratzenberger is set to star in the upcoming movie “The Village Barbershop” (2007), opposite Shelly Cole, Cindy Pickett, Daron Jennings and Josh Hutchinson.

Outside the limelight, the 5' 9” Ratzenberger was married to Georgia Stiny from 1984 to 2004. He has a 20-year-old son named James and an 18-year-old daughter named Nina. He is engaged to Lindsay McGrail, with whom he founded the Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps children build up manual skills. In 1989, Mr. Ratzenberger set up Eco-Pack Industries, which received worldwide success by supplying the recycled paper product Quadrapak as a substitution for plastic packaging. He also has published a book titled “We've Got it Made in America: A Common Man's Guide to an Uncommon Country,” co-written by Joel Engel.


Ratz

Childhood and Family:

John Deszo Ratzenberger was born on April 6, 1947, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father, Deszo Alexander Ratzenberger, was German-American and his mother, Bertha Grohowski, was of Polish-American descent. He grew up Roman Catholic and was enrolled at the St. Ann's School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For college, he attended Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, from which he earned a B.A. in English. As a child, John developed a love for music, especially the drums.

On September 9, 1984, John married Georgia Stiny. The marriage ended in divorce on May 27, 2004. John and his former wife have two children, James (born in 1987) and Nina Katherine (born in 1989). His nickname is Ratz.


The Village Barbershop

Career:

John Ratzenberger became interested in performing while still a student. He performed on stage at Sacred Heart University and started an improvisational troupe called Sal's Meat Market, with which he directed a number of student productions. In 1971, Ratzenberger moved to Europe and re-established Sal’s Meat Market in London, England. He toured throughout Europe with the company and soon received respectable acclaim. It was while on the continent that Ratzenberger started his film and television career with minor and supporting parts.

Ratzenberger made his feature acting debut in Richard Lester's comedy “The Ritz” in 1976, which he followed with appearances in such films as Robert Aldrich’s horrifying nuclear thriller “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” (1977, as a soldier), Peter Hyams' WWII romance “Hanover Street” (1979, starred Harrison Ford) and John Schlesinger's “Yanks” (also 1979). However, he was most popularly as an air traffic controller in “Superman: The Movie” (1978), starring Christopher Reeve as the super hero, and as Major Derlin, a Rebel military officer, in “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), helmed by Irvin Kershner. Both films were considered two of the biggest films of all time. The actor also produced and wrote for several Europe-based theater companies and for BBC and Granada Television.

In the early 1980s, Ratzenberger could be found playing supporting roles in several flourishing projects. He portrayed a drum player in the cult horror film “Motel Hell” (1980) and was cast as a policeman in “Ragtime” (1981). He also received the unaccredited role of a Communist leader in Warren Beatty''s “Reds” (also 1981) and was featured as the driver of Candice Bergen on the highly acclaimed biopic starring Ben Kingsley, “Gandhi” (1982), directed by Richard Attenborough.

While on a writing gig in Los Angeles later that same year, Ratzenberger auditioned for a part on an upcoming NBC sitcom called “Cheers.” There, he advised producers that a character like Cliff Clavin, an egoistic postman who talks just to listen to himself talk, might be a welcomed addition to the series' line-up. Ratzenberger played the postal worker from September 1982 until “Cheers” came to its demise in 1993, during which time he picked up two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1985 and 1986. He also recreated the role for five other TV series, namely “St. Elsewhere” (1985); the “Cheers” spin-offs “The Tortellis” (1987) and “Frasier” (2002), “The Simpsons” (1984) and “Wings” (1990). In addition to acting, Ratzenberger also directed 4 episodes of “Cheers” during 1988 to 1993.

Ratzenberger kept busy by making a series of guest appearances and turning up in films while co-starring on “Cheers.” His movie credits include “Protocol” (1984), “The Falcon and the Snowman” (1985) and “House II: The Second Story” (1987). After “Cheers” ended, he portrayed the voice role of Hamm in the animated film “Toy Story” (1995), supported Christina Ricci and Doug E. Doug in the comedy “That Darn Cat” (1997), played Phil in “One Night Stand (1997) and Al Calavito in “Bad Day on the Block (1997).” He returned to voice over work for “A Bug's Life” (1998), as P.T. Flea, and the sequel “Toy Story 2” (1999), in which he reprised his role of Hamm the Piggy Bank. His voice could also be heard in “Monsters, Inc.” (2001, as Yeti), “Finding Nemo” (2003) and “The Incredibles (2004, as The Underminer).

From 2004 to 2005, Ratzenberger hosted the Travel Channel's documentary series, “John Ratzenberger's Made in America,” which features everyday products made in the U.S. In 2006, he lent his voice to the box office hit animated film “Cars,” as a tractor-trailer named Mack, had an unaccredited part as Simon Baker's father in the drama/romance film “Something New” and appeared as Jim Carter on the TV film “Mystery Woman: Redemption.” More recently, in 2007, he voiced Mustafa for Brad Bird's animation, “Ratatouille.” 2007 also saw the 60-year-old actor participate in the massively successful reality TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”

Ratzenberger will soon star as Art Leroldi in the drama film “The Village Barbershop” (2007), helmed and written by Chris J. Ford. Among his costars in the film are Shelly Cole, Cindy Pickett, Daron Jennings and Josh Hutchinson.


Awards:

  • TV Land: Legend Award, “Cheers,” 2006

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