Originally named Ronald, Walken lived in the neighborhood, but was raised in front of the camera. He along with his brothers was a child actor in 1950s TV shows, even performing scenes with Milton Berle and Sid Caesar. In Astoria, his father owned and ran Walken Bakery (where TV chef Lidia Bastianich once worked). It's amazing to think that the Walken family's American dream brought them from overseas to owning a local bakery to Hollywood stardom.
As an adult Walken's breakthrough came as the disturbed brother in Annie Hall and one year later as suicidal Nick in The Deer Hunter, for which he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Though often playing characters who "fit" his trademark spooky looks and unusual diction, Walken has proven his versatility many times over in comedies, dramas, and action films, and has danced his way through much of it. He has also hosted SNL five times with a standing invite to return to the show once a year.
One more bit, and you can't make this stuff up. As a teen, Walken took a summer job performing in a one-ring traveling circus as a lion tamer's son. Classic Walken, classic Queens character.Walken in The Wedding Crashers