Ronald Walken, known professionally as Christopher Walken (born March 31, 1943), is an American actor. He has appeared in more than 100 films and television shows, including The Deer Hunter, Annie Hall, The Prophecy trilogy, The Dogs of War, Brainstorm, The Dead Zone, A View to a Kill, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Catch Me If You Can, Hairspray and Seven Psychopaths, as well as music videos by many popular recording artists. Walken has received a number of awards and nominations during his career, including winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1978 for his portrayal of Nikanor “Nick” Chebotarevich in The Deer Hunter.
Walken’s films have grossed more than $1 billion in the United States. He has also played the lead in the Shakespeare plays Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Coriolanus. He is a popular guest-host of Saturday Night Live, having hosted seven times as of April 2008. His most notable roles on the show include record producer Bruce Dickinson in the “More Cowbell” sketch, as the double-entendre-named disgraced Confederate officer, Colonel Angus, and his multiple appearances as The Continental.
Walken debuted as a film director and script writer with the short film Popcorn Shrimp in 2001. He also wrote and acted the main role in a play about his idol Elvis Presley titled Him, in 1995.
Named for actor Ronald Colman, Walken was born Ronald Walken in Astoria, Queens. His mother, Rosalie (née Russell; May 16, 1907 – March 26, 2010), was a Scottish emigrant from Glasgow, and his father, Paul Wälken (October 5, 1903 – February 23, 2001), moved from Germany in 1928 with his brothers. His father owned and operated Walken’s Bakery in Astoria, Queens. He was raised a Methodist.
Influenced by their mother’s own dreams of stardom, he and his brothers, Kenneth and Glenn, were child actors on television in the 1950s. As a teenager, he worked as a lion tamer in a circus. Walken went to Hofstra University but dropped out after one year, having gotten the role of Clayton Dutch Miller on an Off-Broadway revival of Best Foot Forward, co-starring with Liza Minnelli, who played Ethel Hofflinger. Walken initially trained as a dancer in music theatre at the Washington Dance Studio, before moving on to dramatic roles in theatre and then film.
Walken married Georgianne Walken (née Thon) in 1969: she is a casting director, most notably for The Sopranos. They live in Wilton, Connecticut, and have no children. Walken has stated in interviews that not having children is one of the reasons he has had such a prolific film career. Walken has a cat named Bowtie; his previous cat was named Flapjack. Walken and his wife also have a vacation home on Block Island, Rhode Island. Walken endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012.