A former carpenter, archery instructor, carnival performer and oyster boat crewman, Ratzenberger was raised in Bridgeport, Conn. An English literature major at Sacred Heart University, he starred in one-man shows and directed others after graduation. Ratzenberger spent a decade in England as co-founder of the improvisational duo Sal's Meat Market, earning acclaim across Europe and a grant from the British Arts Council. Early in his career, he appeared in numerous motion pictures, including A Bridge Too Far, Superman, Gandhi and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Ratzenberger also starred in the Granada TV series Small World, and cut his teeth as a producer and writer for the BBC, Granada TV and several prestigious theater companies.
In 1982, Ratzenberger auditioned for a role on Cheers, suggesting to creators that they consider adding a know-it-all bar regular. The character of Cliff Clavin was brought to life, and the Cheers team rewrote the pilot to include him. During 11 seasons on Cheers, Ratzenberger improvised many of his lines, helping bring freshness and enduring popularity to a show that earned 28 Emmy Awards. With Cheers still airing in worldwide syndication, Cliff Clavin remains one of television's most beloved characters.
Ratzenberger has reprised his role of Cliff Clavin in Frasier, The Simpsons, Blossom, Wings, St. Elsewhere and eight NBC specials. The accomplished character actor has also appeared on 8 Simple Rules, That '70s Show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Murphy Brown, The Love Boat, Magnum P.I. and Hill Street Blues. Among his numerous TV movies are starring roles in The Pennsylvania Miners Story for ABC, A Fare to Remember, Remember Wenn, PBS Masterpiece Theater's The Good Soldier, and the BBC's Song of a Sourdough and the Detectives. Ratzenberger's big-screen animation success extends to the small screen in the long-running TBS series Captain Planet and the Planeteers and The New Adventures of Captain Planet. He was also a fan favorite on the hit ABC show Dancing with the Stars.
Ratzenberger's recent credits include the film The Village Barbershop, winner of the Audience Choice Award at the Cinequest Festival, and Our First Christmas for Hallmark. He recently kicked off season five of his popular Travel Channel series John Ratzenberger's Made in America. Ratzenberger created the show in 2004 to showcase American-made products, a cause for which he has been very active. Ratzenberger's non-profit organization, Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs Foundation, is positioned to restore esteem and dignity to the manual and industrial arts, and to inspire the next generation of American artisans, inventors, engineers, repairmen and skilled workers.
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John Ratzenberger Facts
|April 6, 1947 (76)
|Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
|The Good Dinosaur