|Birth Date||April 6, 1947|
|Known For||Actor & author|
|Highest Score||23 (Foxtrot)|
|Lowest Score||16 (Paso doble)|
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. 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 Bren Derlin; Motel Hell as a drummer; Outland as a doomed mine worker named Tarlow; and Gandhi, playing an American lieutenant.
Ratzenberger is well known for playing 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".
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 made to date, ranging from main characters to characters that only appear in one scene. His roles include:
- Hamm the Piggy Bank in the Toy Story series (1995, 1999, 2010, 2019)
- P.T. Flea, the Circus Ring Leader in A Bug's Life (1998)
- The Abominable Snowman in the Monsters, Inc. series (2001, 2013)
- The school of Moonfish in Finding Nemo (2003)
- The Underminer in The Incredibles (2004)
- 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)
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." Although technically not Pixar films, Ratzenberger also voiced Harland the jet tug in DisneyToon Studios' Planes (2013) and a mustached plane named Brodi in its sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014).
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. 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 appearances on Cheers.
Ratzenberger has two children, James John born in 1987, and Nina Kathrine born in 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. Both Ratzenberger and Blichfeldt were described as "avid outdoors enthusiasts, philanthropists, and activists".
Dancing with the Stars 4Edit
|Week #||Dance/Song||Judges' score||Result|
|1||Cha-Cha-Cha/ "Chain of Fools"||6||5||6||No elimination|
|2||Quickstep/ "The Lady is a Tramp"||7||7||7||Safe|
|4||Paso Doble/ "A Kind of Magic"||6||5||5||Bottom 2|
|5||Samba/ "Love Is in the Air"||6||6||6||Safe|
|6||Mambo/ "Mambo Swing"|
Swing/ "Rock This Town"
|7||Foxtrot/ "That's Life"|
Rumba/ "Under Pressure"