Happy Birthday, John Ratzenberger!

John RatzenbergerYou know him best as Rebel Major Bren Derlin in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. No? As a missile controller in Superman, or a NASA controller in Superman II? Oh, yeah, and I think he was on some decades-old TV sitcom set at a bar in Boston.

Yes, today is John Ratzenberger’s 67th birthday, and we hope you’ll join all of us at GeekDad in wishing him a very happy one. He may be best known as mailman and blowhard Cliff Clavin on Cheers, but that’s only a part of his long and amazing acting career. In addition to the roles mentioned above, he also appeared in the not-as-bad-as-you’ve-probably-heard Sean Connery sci-fi film Outland, in addition to several dozen less geeky films. But to anyone under the age of 30 or so, he’s probably most easily identifiable as that voice you hear in every Pixar film.

It’s true: Starting with Toy Story in 1995, and continuing through Monsters University last year and next year’s Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, Ratzenberger has had a voice role in every single feature film Pixar has released. He has applied his talents to the small parts, like the school of moonfish in Finding Nemo and Tom the construction worker in Up, as well as to meatier (sorry) roles like Hamm in the Toy Story trilogy.

Still, to Star Wars fans, he will always be the guy who told Princess Leia “Your Highness, there’s nothing more we can do tonight. The shield doors must be closed.”

However you think of him, please join us in wishing John Ratzenberger a very happy 67th birthday, and many more to come!

Photo: Mary Hanley of the Rhode Island International Film Festival; used under GNU Free Documentation License.

Matt Blum is Editor-in-Chief of GeekDad. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two kids, all of whom are also geeks. In his day job Matt is a software engineer, and his many geeky interests include science fiction, the Muppets, LEGO, board games, video games, and bacon.