Walken was given the name Ronald during his birth on March 31st, 1943, in Astoria, Queens, New York. His mother, Rosalie Russell, is of Scottish descent; she was born in Glasgow.
Originally from the Gelsenkirchen district of Germany, Paul Walken settled in Astoria, New York, and set up shop as a baker. He and his two elder brothers, Kenneth and Glenn, attended Methodist schools and churches growing up.
Since his mother had always had an eye on the spotlight and fame for herself, she urged her three children to follow in her footsteps and pursue acting from an early age. In the first episode of “Wonderful John Acton,” Walken, then only eleven years old, appeared as a background actor.
Christopher Walken Early Life
On March 31, 1943, in the New York borough of Queens, a baby boy named Ronald Walken entered the world. Rosalie Russell, his mother, was a Scottish immigrant from Glasgow. Paul Walken Sr. opened up shop as the owner of Walken’s Bakery in Astoria; he was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. His family, which included brothers Kenneth and Glenn, was devout Methodist.
His mother, who had a fascination with the theater and the spotlight, encouraged all three of her boys to pursue performing careers. Walken started out as a background actor, and by the time he was 10, he had landed a recurring role on “Wonderful John Acton.” Over the course of the next few years, he made several more television appearances and became actively involved in theater.
At the age of 15, Walken saw Elvis Presley on television for the first time and was immediately struck by the singer’s manner. After graduating high school, Walken enrolled at Hofstra University for a year before dropping out to focus on his acting career. In addition to his acting studies, he dabbled in dance at the Washington Dance Studio.
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Christopher Walken Career
Even as a young actor, Walken was able to acquire regular roles in both television and the theater. His nightclub dancing and role in “Naked City” both took place in 1963. Because Christopher fit him better, at Monique van Vooren’s urging (she was a dancer in the act as well), he legally changed his name to that.
It was in 1966 that he made his Broadway debut in “The Lion in the Winter,” in which he played King Philip of France. In 1968, he played Lysander in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Stratford Festival in Canada, and in 1970, he played Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet” at the same festival. Walken appeared in the off-Broadway production of “Lemon Sky” in 1970, alongside Charles Durning and Bonnie Bartlett. In recognition of his outstanding performance in the play, he was honored with a Drama Desk Award.
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Christopher Walken Quotes:
1. “And anything I play, my reference is completely from the planet Show Business. I don’t know anything about anybody else.”
2. “I put aside an hour every day to go over that monologue again and again for months, and every time I got to the end of it, I would crack up.”
3. “I worked for 15 years as a kind of janitor at the Actors Studio. I would do manual things. I did lots of plays, theater workshops, for nothing.”
4. “I grew up in the ’50s, in New York City, where television was born.”
5. “An actor really is a kind of intermediary between an audience and the piece, whether it’s a play or movie.”
6. “Back home, I do the same things every day. Exactly the same. I eat at the same time, I get up at the same time.”
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