'Cheers' mailman back in Bridgeport, where everybody knows his name
Bridgeport (AP) - John Ratzenberger's voice, that wonderful helix of bravado and vulnerability, is a familiar one.
To kids, it's a fixture in Pixar movies. To adults, it's that of Cliff Clavin, maybe the world's most beloved mailman.
But in Bridgeport, the voice belongs to "Johnny Rat," the local boy who fell into an acting career and who credits the hard-working spirit of his native city for writing his script for success.
"There's a Bridgeport mentality," Ratzenberger said Thursday night, this time speaking as a radio show guest at the Fire Engine Pizza Co. on Fairfield Avenue. "It's a unique place to grow up in. You have Stratford and Fairfield on both sides, Trumbull to the north, a deep-water port and Interstate 95. But still, there is plywood on storefronts. It's nuts.
"But the people - they are spirited, they are hard-working," he said. "Look at Black Rock. It's a real neighborhood. I know people who have been here for five generations."
Snuggled next to his new wife, Julie, in a booth at the back of Marty McCarthy's pizza joint, Ratzenberger seemed at home - he grew up just a few blocks away - as he appeared on the "Modern Problems Radio Show," a nationally syndicated program broadcast out of the Black Rock restaurant each week.
Ratzenberger and his wife joined radio host Daveylove and his crew to talk about topics ranging from his wife's love of collecting sea glass at the Milford beach where they live, to his newfound sense of style.
Ratzenberger said sometimes, he forgets that he's a celebrity. But his wife, whom he married in November after they had dated for several years, is always there to refresh his memory.
"I go out and I'm dressed like I'm going to clean out the garage," Ratzenberger said. "My wife has to remind me that someone might take my picture. Now it's like I'm 8 years old again."
Laughing, his wife cut into the conversation: "I lay out his clothes for him, do his hair."
According to the show's hosts, whatever she is doing, it's working.
"You look better than the rest of your 'Cheers' castmates do," Daveylove said, referring to the Boston-based sitcom.
Daveylove has hosted the radio show for seven years. He's brought in guests ranging from musicians playing at the Acoustic Cafe in Black Rock to actors such as Ratzenberger.
Lately, the show has been broadcast out of McCarthy's pizza place. The two met when McCarthy was serving pizza out of a restored firetruck after a fire temporarily closed his business.
"We've built a good relationship," said McCarthy, who reopened the restaurant at 2914 Fairfield Ave. in late October. "We finally got our home back and they needed a home and we had a spot for them. They bring a good crowd and are building up a nice celebrity portfolio."
Ratzenberger will be returning to television soon. He has a role on FX Network's "Legit," which will debut in January. He's also reprising his role as the Abominable Snowman in Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters Inc., set for release in June.
"Modern Problems Radio Show" can be heard each Thursday at https://www.modernproblemsradio.com from 8 to 10 p.m.
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