Believe it or not, the above is a very controversial photograph.
While everyone agrees that it is Charita Bauer playing the role of The Guiding Light's Bert, and Lyle Sudrow as Bert's husband, Bill, the identity of the little boy has long been in question.
Several sources claim that it is a very young Christopher Walken as Mike Bauer, even though the actor is officially billed as Glenn Walken.
It is true that Christopher is not the Oscar-winning actor's given name. But neither is Glenn. Christopher Walken was born Ronald Walken and, up until 1965, was billed as "Ronnie Walken" in Broadway plays and on television. His younger brother Glenn is still called Glenn to this day.
While there is some evidence that young Ronnie may have filled in for Glenn on occasion on The Guiding Light, the above photo is definitely of Glenn. Compare it to the picture of all three boys with their parents below.
There is no mistaking which one is Ronnie/Christopher and which one is Glenn.
In addition, Glenn Walken played Mike from 1954 to 1956. He was born in 1945. Christopher was born in 1943 and would have been too old to be the boy in the GL picture, even assuming it was taken early in 1954.
In 1956, the Walken boys' mother told TV Radio Mirror:
Ronnie and Glenn parlayed their modeling careers into TV and radio careers via that bill-payer of all time – commercials. When he was five, Glenn got his first call for a commercial try-out … on TV’s Chance Of A Lifetime. Among the other contestants was brother Ronnie. Eliminations were made and eventually it dwindled down to the two Walken boys. Mrs. Walken started worrying. This was the first time any of her boys had been in direct competition with each other. One had to lose! How would he take it? How should she handle the situation should friction and jealousy result?
As it turned out, her worries were all for naught. The directors obviously liked both boys, but the decision was made in favor of Glenn … Ronnie was a little too old and too tall. Upset? “Not one bit”, smiles Mrs. Walken. “And being the older and more experienced of the two – he had already done a number of commercials – Ronnie willingly did all he could to help Glenn over his first hurdle. In fact, it's been that way ever since....
For one so young in years, Glenn has shown a remarkable flair and ability dating right back to his early modeling days. “He always seemed to know just what to do,” his mother explains. “Long before the cameraman could tell him what pose to strike, Glenn would seem to sense that in this picture he probably should have his hand in his pocket, or be putting on his gloves, or whatever the case might be.”
When Glenn went into TV and radio, this ability stood him in good stead, as did his very quick memory. He not only memorizes his own lines quickly but, by the time rehearsals are over, he’s apt to know most of the lines of the other characters.
“Actually,” Mrs. Walken continues, “all three boys have fast memories, and when we’re studying scripts at night I’m always pleased to see how they honestly try to help each other and accept all criticism in the spirit in which it was intended.”
This somewhat unusual Walken spirit is quite the talk of the network casting departments, for when one is called in for a tryout and told he is either too big or too little, the casting director is sure to hear: “I’ve got a brother …”
Read the entire classic feature on the Walken clan, here!