April 6, 1947 – Actor John Ratzenberger is Born
“[Ratzenberger’s] the ultimate Pixar character actor. He’s someone so clear, I know that guy after only two lines of dialogue. Having him in every film is like our Hitchcock cameo.” – Animator and Director Pete Doctor
On April 6, 1947, John Deszo Ratzenberger was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1971, he moved to London, where he worked as a house framer and began his acting career. His first role was in the 1976 film The Ritz. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s , Ratzenberger continued to score minor and major film roles in such films as Superman, Superman II, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Ghandi. In 1982, he auditioned for a new sitcom series: Cheers. Although he originally auditioned for the role of Norm Peterson, he came up with the role of Cliff Clavin, the bar’s “know-it-all.” The series ran for eleven seasons, and reached critical acclaim. In 1995, Ratzenberger was cast in Pixar’s first full-length computer animated feature Toy Story as the piggy bank Hamm, and soon after became a recurring “lucky charm” for the studio, having a part in every Pixar film to date. Animator and director Andrew Stanton said in an interview, “We were at a press junket for Toy Story at Marino del Rey, and all the talent were invited to join us for a celebratory cigar and toast. John hung out with us all night. He was so much fun, I remember saying, ‘Let’s have him be in a film again.’” Ratzenberger has stated that “every time I get Pixar on the line, I just drop whatever I’m doing and get over to the studio.” He will soon be heard in Pixar’s Monster’s University, reprising his role of the Abominable Snowman.