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Helping to "find the funny" this season on Last Comic Standing as a talent scout in Nashville this season is actor John Ratzenberger.
Born on April 6th, 1947 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, master improvisational actor John Ratzenberger gained international fame as the character Cliff in the NBC phenomenon Cheers. During more than three decades of movie making and theatre, John 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.
In between his theatre touring in Europe, John was a producer and screenwriter for the BBC, Paravision, Royal Court Theater, Hampstead Theater Club, Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and Granada TV. Projects he wrote include: 5 Minutes in America, The Golden Dreamboat, Friends in Space, Crown Court and Winner Take All.
On the silver screen, John's first motion picture role was in the Golden Globe-nominated film The Ritz (1976), directed by Richard Lester and starring Rita Moreno and Jack Weston. He went on to appear in over 22 major motion pictures over the next few years, including Gandhi (1982) and Star Wars' Empire Strikes Back (1980). He also starred in the Granada TV series, Small World.
In all, John has acted in 38 major motion pictures, including Determination of Death (2001), Superman 1 (1978) and 2 (1980), One Night Stand (1997), Tick Tock (1999), That Darn Cat (1997), She's Having a Baby (1988), Protocol (1984), The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), Ragtime (1981), Reds (1981), Outland (1981), Yanks (1979), and A Bridge Too Far (1977).
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. "Do you have a bar know-it-all?" he asked the creators. They didn't know what that meant, so John gave them five hilarious minutes of improv, demonstrating exactly what it meant. They loved what they saw. Thus was born the lovable postman and trivia king, Cliff Clavin—American icon.
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 loved characters.
As Hollywood's most versatile vocal talent, John is the only actor to voice a role in all of the Pixar films: the charming and witty Hamm the piggy bank in Toy Story 1 (1995) and 2 (1999); P.T. Flea, the excitable 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 Underminer in Pixar's Incredibles (2004); as a Mac-truck in Cars (2006) and as Mustafa, the head waiter in Ratatouille (2007) and the upcoming Toy Story 3 and WALL-E (both in production). Pixar artists always find a way to include John's recognizable eyebrows and mustache. As Pixar's creative head, John Lasseter, once said, "John is our good luck charm."
John has acted in many TV movies, including a starring role as miner Tom Foy in ABC's The Pennsylvania Miners' Story (2002; A Fare to Remember (1999), AMC's award-winning Remember Wenn (1998), NBC's How I Spent My Summer (1990), Going to the Chapel (1988) and Combat Academy (1986), Largo Entertainment's Under Pressure (1997) with Charlie Sheen, CBS' Timestalkers (1987), PBS Masterpiece Theatre's The Good Soldier (1997) and BBC's Song of a Sourdough (1997) and The Detectives (1997).
As a much-loved American icon, John has appeared as himself on live episodes of Fox's Best Damn Sports Show (2004), TV Tales (2002), The Drew Carey Show (2001), E! True Hollywood Story (2000), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1993), and Monty Python's Flying Circus: Live at Aspen (1998), as well as endless TV interviews.
John has guest-starred in a variety of TV shows including: 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (2003), That 70's Show (2001), Touched By An Angel (2000), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1997), Caroline in the City (1996), Sister, Sister (1995), Murphy Brown (1994), The Love Boat (1985), Magnum P.I. (1984), and Hill Street Blues (1982), among others.
John portrayed his character "Cliff" in Fraiser (2002), eight NBC TV specials (1986-2002), The Simpson's (1994), Blossom (1993), Wings (1990), The Tortellis (1987), and St. Elsewhere (1985).
John executive produced and created Fox's The World's Most Incredible Animal Rescues (1997-1999). As host, creator and executive producer, John integrated life and art in Home and Garden TV series American Hobbies and Pastimes with John Ratzenberger (1994). One of the first reality shows, it gave an adventurous look at unusual hobbies, visiting with "regular" Americans in their homes. He created, executive produced, and starred in Fox's situation comedy pilot Locals (1994). He executive produced NBC's And Now You Know (1995), in which he focuses his camera on "people who know how to fix things."
John continues to direct, produce and write. He currently heads up his own production company, Fiddlers Bay Productions, located in Los Angeles. He has directed more than 50 TV episodes including several on: Cheers (1982), Down Home (1991), Madman of the People; Pearl (1996) and Sister, Sister (1994). John also directed single episodes of MTM's Evening Shade (1990) and Warner Brother's Sydney (1991).
John enjoyed a great run with ABC's Dancing with the Stars during the spring of 2007. He continues to dance when he can - but has given up his dreams of becoming a professional ballroom competitor!
During his free time, John is an avid sailor, fisherman, and billiard player. He enjoys international travel, fencing and collecting antiques. He plays the drums and belongs to a bagpipe band, as part of the Emerald Society. Sports such as karate, yoga and skeet shooting keep him active. He has one son and one daughter.