Many famous Hollywood stars have their roots right here in Queens. One of the biggest is actor Christopher Walken.
It’s said that humble beginnings build character in a person that helps improve acting ability, and Walken just may be a case in point. His father, Paul Walken, opened a business called Ideal Bakery in 1931 at 29-13 Broadway in Astoria. Bakers work very long hours that start at 3 a.m. each day.
Three sons were born of Walken’s marriage to his wife, Rosalie. As the business grew it enabled the family to buy a house in fashionable Bayside, at 38-11 210 St.
Under the nurturing of their loving mother, all three boys were introduced to acting at an early age. The eldest son, Kenneth, appeared on many early TV shows in the golden age of television. The other boys, Ronald and Glenn, found work on early soap operas such as “The Guilding Light,” “Road of Life” and “The Secret Storm.”
Ronald, the middle son, born in 1943, later changed his name to Christopher, and the rest is history. Walken caught the public’s attention with gripping portrayals in “Annie Hall” in 1977 and “The Deer Hunter” a year later, and has continued to impress the critics ever since with his remarkable versatility. Though often cast in unsmiling roles, he’s also done great comedy —think of his hilarious demand for “more cowbell” on the April 8, 2000 “Saturday Night Live” spoof of Blue Oyster Cult.
The bakery later moved to 29-17 Broadway, and the family opened an eatery, the Walken Cafe, at the old location. Walken’s brothers eventually turned to other careers.
Rosalie Walken died in March 2010, just two months short of her 103rd birthday.