During more than three decades of movie making and theatre, John Ratzenberger has enjoyed success as a screenwriter, director, producer and multi Emmy-nominated actor. He is also an accomplished entrepreneur and philanthropist.
John's career began in earnest in the early 1970s, when he formed the improvisational theatre duo "Sal's Meat Market," which performed to standing-room-only crowds throughout Europe for 634 straight performances. To help pay the bills, John also worked as a house framer, archery instructor and deck hand on a fishing boat. Learning a few trades allowed him to pursue his dream of acting.
In 1982, John accepted a writing assignment for CBS in Los Angeles. On the day he was scheduled to return to London, he auditioned for a role on the upcoming Cheers. At the time of his audition, the character of the postman did not exist. As he walked out of the audition, he turned and asked the creators in the room "Do you have a bar know-it-all?" They didn't know what that was, so John gave them five minutes of improv, demonstrating exactly what it meant with the perfect Boston accent. They loved what they saw and Cliff Clavin was born.
In the history of television, only a handful of series have achieved the worldwide success of Cheers, on which John portrayed Cliff for the show's entire 11-year run. To this day, thanks to daily syndication, Cliff continues as one of America's most beloved characters.
John is better known to a younger generation for his Pixar roles. He is the only actor to voice a character in every Pixar film including: the witty Hamm the piggy bank in Toy Story 1 (1995), 2 (1999) and 3 (2010); P.T. Flea, the circus ringmaster in Bug's Life (1998); the lovable snow monster Yeti in Monsters, Inc.(2002); the ever-changing school of Moonfish in Finding Nemo (2003); the philosophical character The Underminer in The Incredibles (2004); a Mac-truck in Cars (2006), Mustafa, the head waiter in Ratatouille (2007); as John, a human in WALL-E (2008), the construction worker in Up! (2009); Mac-truck again Cars 2 (2011); Gordon the guard in Brave (2012); Yeti again in Monsters University (2013), Harland in Planes (2013), Fritz in Inside Out (2015); Earl in The Good Dinosaur (2015); Bill the Crab in Finding Dory (2016); again as Mack the Truck in Cars 3 (2017); Juan Ortodoncia in Coco (2017); again as The Underminer in the upcoming The Incredibles 2 (2018) and Hamm in next year's launch of Toy Story 4. Pixar artists always find a way to include John's recognizable eyebrows and mustache. Pixar's Chief Creator Officer John Lasseter calls John his "good luck charm."
In all, John has acted in 38 major motion pictures including blockbusters such as Superman, Star Wars: Episode V -The Empire Strikes Back and Ghandi to independent films like his hit The Woodcarver. He has written, directed or produced hundreds of television projects over the span of his career making him the 6th largest grossing actor of all time based on box-office receipts.
Since climbing off the barstool at Cheers over a decade ago, John has immersed himself in what makes America great, a country in which a truck driver's son wound up being a TV icon. He wrote the book: We've Got it Made in America, A Common Man's Salute to an Uncommon Country, a collection of essays from his five years on the road visiting factory towns throughout the country on the Travel Channel show "John Ratzenberger's Made in America."
John is Hollywood's most outspoken advocate for American manufacturing, skilled labor and the companies that are the foundation of our great country, working tirelessly to shine a light on the importance of manufacturing and trades. He addressed the Congressional Manufacturing Caucus with his oft-quoted speech "The Industrial Tsunami Heading Our Way"; the House Small Business Committee on the "New Faces of Manufacturing" and the Senate Commerce Committee about "Saving American Manufacturing" - all three speeches detailed the crushing regulations on American enterprise and the fact that we are running out of skilled tradesman to fill the hundreds of thousands of available skilled trades jobs in America. To combat this issue, he works with legislators on both sides of the aisle to bring back trades training in schools, build apprentice programs for returning veterans and support the reshoring of American companies.
John created "Nuts Bolts and Thingamajigs", a foundation that creates and funds manufacturing summer camps and scholarships nationwide - inspiring the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs. The program took off and John eventually handed it over to the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association to run it.
In October 2017, John was appointed to the President's Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion whose mission is to identify strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeship programs are insufficient.
He speaks to groups across the country about eliminating the stigma around the trades while providing much-needed training opportunities for students, returning veterans and out of work Americans. "Our country's infrastructure is falling apart and there aren't enough skilled tradesmen to fill the jobs. Parents are encouraging their kids to go deep into debt to pay for a college education while more than half of our graduates are working jobs that don't require a college degree." And for the innovators who are studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), they will need the final piece of the puzzle - manual arts including welding, machining, carpentry, etc. - to bring their ideas to life. Technology is nothing without the skilled workers who turn that invention into an actual product (even if the product is the computer used to create the technology).
"My mother used to give me old radios and toasters," said John. "She told us to take them apart and put them back together. Growing up, everyone we knew could make something and knew how to fix things." It's the common-sense problem solving he learned as a kid that he credits for his role as developer and founder of ECOPACK, a biodegradable shipping material that replaces Styrofoam and is now used worldwide, most often seen as the shredded accordion paper used in gift bags.
His latest entrepreneurial endeavor is as co-founder and Chief Creative Strategist for TheGiftBox.com - the only online subscription box store that offers multiple verticals under one umbrella including pets, sweets, fishing, travel, cooking, moms and more with a patent-pending proprietary platform. Every purchase benefits one of three charitable partners: Music Drives Us, Pets for Patriots and Family Reach.
Born on April 6th, 1947 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, John attended St. Ann's School in Bridgeport, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut and presently sits on the University Board of Pepperdine University. John is an avid sailor, shooter, fisherman, and billiard player. He plays the drums and belongs to a bagpipe band as part of the Emerald Society. He has one son and one daughter and lives in Connecticut with his wife Julie.
• The average age of a machinist in America is 58 years old. We aren’t training our youth to fill these jobs or the millions of others available now in the skilled trades
• How did we go from celebrating the trades to denigrating them?
• Is a $100k education worth it when millions of high-paying, highly-trained jobs in the trades are available?
• What can companies, communities, schools and the government do to stem this skills-loss that is crushing our manufacturing base?
• Apologies from the Woodstock generation by someone who not only was there but was on the carpentry crew that built the stage at the famous festival (me!)
• As the Beatles advised us "Picture yourself in a boat down the river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies" In other words, do a lot of drugs and float along hallucinating. My question has always been...who built the boat?
• The joys and rewards of being a capable and self-reliant adult
• How the main protagonist in the James Fenimore Cooper, Deerslayer and Hawkeye novels influenced my life to the point of knowing how to build a house and everything in it
• I still get food on my shirt front when I eat out but I know where North is and can tell time by the shadow of a tree
• The do's don'ts and other tips gleaned from having lived and travelled throughout Europe for ten uninterrupted years
• Did you know that asking someone in England what they do for a living is considered an insult? If you pour wine backwards in Italy, it is considered the "curse of the devil"?