Christopher Walken

Walken in 2008, image via Featureflash /

Birth Name: Ronald Paul Walken

Place of Birth: Astoria, Queens, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: March 31, 1943

*father – German
*mother – Irish, Scottish

Christopher Walken is an American actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Deer Hunter (1978).

He was born in Queens, to emigrant parents. His father, Paul Joseph Wälken, was German, from Horst Ander Emscher, Westfalen. His mother, Rosalie (Russell), was Scottish, from Glasgow. She was of Irish and Scottish ancestry.

Christopher is married to casting director Georgianne Walken (born Georgianne Leigh Thon).

Christopher’s maternal grandfather was Joseph Egen (the son of Matthew Egen/Egan and Alice Chambers). Christopher did not know the identity of his biological maternal grandfather, Joseph, until he appeared on the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2017). Joseph’s parents were Irish.

Christopher’s maternal grandmother was Mary/Molly Russell (the daughter of William Charles Russell and Mary MacFarlane Burgess). Christopher’s grandmother Mary was born in Glasgow, Scotland. William was born in Ireland, the son of John Russell, who was Scottish, and of Catherine Sullivan, who was Irish. Christopher’s great-grandmother Mary MacFarlane Burgess was Scottish, and was the daughter of John Grant Burgess and Ann/Anne MacFarlane.

While he is not of Italian descent, Walken has played many film characters of Italian heritage, including in the films True Romance (Vincenzo Coccotti), A Business Affair (Vanni Corso), Suicide Kings (Carlo Bartolucci), Illuminata (Umberto Bevalaqua), Joe Dirt (Anthony Benedetti), The Affair of the Necklace (Alessandro Cagliostro), Catch Me If You Can (Frank Abagnale, Sr.), Kangaroo Jack (Salvatore Maggio), The Sentinel (Det. Rizzo), and Jersey Boys (Gyp DeCarlo).


Curious about ethnicity

29 Responses

  1. jackson9 says:

    I disagree that his mother is Scottish with a “small amount” of Irish. I believe Christopher Walken and his mother might actually be more Irish than Scottish. Walken’s maternal grandmother (Mary Burgess Russell) was indeed 3/4 Scottish and 1/4 Irish through her grandmother Catherine Sullivan. However, maternal grandfather Joseph Egan’s father Matthew Egan (1813) and mother Alice Chambers (1818) were Irish.

    • Hayley says:

      Christopher Walken is my 4th cousin from my dads mother side (Russell). They are a mix of Scottish and Irish – mainly Scottish. Christopher Walken’s mother (Rosalie Russell) was from Glasgow (where I was born and all of my family from my fathers side and grandmother and great grandfather’s side were from Glasgow, Scotland).

      He’s related to me from my; Grandmother (Sandra Russell) her mother (my Great-grandma) (Isa Russell) her father (my Great-grandfather).

      Isa Russell’s father’s brother (my Great-Great grandfather) was Christopher walken’s great grand-father, my great-great grandfather’s father’s daughter was Rosalie Russell (Christopher Walken’s mother)

  2. pookerella says:

    Christopher Walken’s Dad was Jewish, but he converted to marry his Mom.

    • follers says:

      What’s your proof of that? His father, Paul Walken, moved to the States in 1928, before any major waves of immigration by Jews from Germany because of the Nazis (the Nazis came to power in 1933).

      • bearboy says:

        I don’t know if there is Jewish ancestry on Christopher’s fathers side of the family but I think I found his paternal grandparents. Paul Walken (1903-2001) (Christopher’s father) was the son of Wilhelm Walken (1867-1924) and Emlli Elmenhorst (1875-1924). Wilhelm Walken was the son of Anton Walken and Bernhardine Pobmann. Source is family trees but I could easily have found tree’s of people who made mistakes copying off each other.

        • ashash says:

          We will find out if he is Jewish when he is on Finding Your Roots.

          • bearboy says:

            His episode already aired and they didn’t show his DNA results along with the other two guests.

          • bearboy says:

            To add to that, even if Christopher Walken is half-Jewish they might not mention that either since they seemed to ignore Bill Maher 50% Ashkenazi ancestry.

          • ashash says:

            Apparently, it turns out one of his relatives was a Nazi. So I don’t think he has any recent Jewish ancestry.

          • bearboy says:

            I agree with you, I don’t think he has Jewish ancestry either. My point was Finding Your Roots sometimes strangely have guest with a large amount of ancestry from an ethnic group and choose to ignore it throughout the whole episode.

          • follers says:

            You mean Bill Maher, Harry Connick, Jr., Patricia Arquette, and Carly Simon. They also didn’t mention that Fred Armisen’s mother is Venezuelan. It’s just bizarre. Unlike Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots usually takes a more comprehensive view.

            I have no way to confirm that those are Walken’s grandparents, at least at the moment.

          • bearboy says:

            Yes, Bill Maher was the only example that came to my head earlier. But even though they might not mention all of his ancestry I still agree with @ashash that he most likely has no recent Jewish ancestry.

        • bearboy says:

          I don’t think Christopher Walken has no recent Jewish ancestry I meant to say not Bill Maher who obviously does.

      • pookerella says:

        Besides, you’re kidding yourself if you think hatred of Jews in Germany didn’t start till 1933. Things were brewing since the 1890s.

    • pookerella says:

      My proof is I knew the family.

  3. fuzzybear44 says:

    had no idea, he wasn’t Italian.Very good actor(great as Gabriel in The Prophecy)

    • andrew says:

      He played many Italian roles in his career:

      True Romance (Vincenzo Coccotti), The Sentinel (Det. Rizzo),The Affair of the Necklace (Alessandro Cagliostro), Catch Me If You Can (Frank Abagnale Sr.), Kangaroo Jack (Salvatore Maggio), Jersey Boys (Gyp DeCarlo), A Business Affair (Vanni Corso), Suicide Kings (Carlo Bartolucci), Illuminata (Umberto Bevalaqua), Joe Dirt (Anthony Benedetti)


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