The son of Irish immigrants went to college and law school. He then worked in the orbit of vaudeville and show business as a songwriter. In 1908 he had a hit with the song Will you love me in December as you do in May?.
As a member of the Democratic Party Walker sat 1910 to 1914 in the New York State Assembly in 1914 and in the Senate from New York; In 1921 he became leader of the Democrats of New York City. In 1925 he was elected mayor. An unprecedented tenure in the wild twenties began.
He was a star - mayor, charming, elegant, audience appeal, corrupt, and work-shy. Soon he had several nicknames, such as "Night Mayor" ( "Night Mayor "), " Jazz Mayor" ( "Jazz Mayor " ) or " Beau James" ( " lover James "). He loved life and showed the significantly with symbolic performances for the media. He did not interfere in the management of a, let the cult of personality bloom and was of the opinion that people " want to be left alone " in the first place.
As reckless bon vivant, he was sloppy in his administration, unpunctual and overly present in the nightlife. Walker was rare before noon and announced publicly that it was the greatest sin to go to bed on the same day on which they had risen. In the late twenties there were in the booming city hardly a difference between politics and show business that flourished corruption and almost every office was commercially available under Walker's government.
The effects of the global economic crisis showed the inability of his administration and person. The municipal debt grew every day at $ 300,000. Early 1932 threatened the city of New York bankruptcy and Walker was put on trial. As in his bank account he could not explain huge sums and 15 cases of corruption faced, he resigned in September of that year and fled to Europe. He did not return until after the war, when he was sure to be no longer charged.
Walker was very devoted to the sport of boxing and showed up for the so-called " Walker Law" responsible legalized boxing in New York State. For his contributions to the sport of boxing politicians found 1992 induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Walker's grave is located on the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, about 25 km north of New York City.