Kris Kristofferson: From Army Captain to Hollywood Star

Eric Sof

Kris Kristofferson 2

Kris Kristofferson is a renowned Hollywood actor and a military veteran widely recognized for his country music and acting skills. However, if that fails to impress you, his tenure in the US Army certainly will.

Early life

In Brownsville, Texas, Kris Kristofferson, an American icon, was born to Mary Ann and Lars Kristofferson, a US Army Air Corps officer. Growing up in a military family, Kris experienced a life of constant relocation, typical of any military child.

Kris’s academic prowess was evident when he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature from Pomona College in 1958. He was awarded a prestigious scholarship to study at Oxford University, where he further honed his skills and expanded his knowledge.

Kris Kristofferson served in U.S. Army as helicopter pilot
Kris Kristofferson finished Ranger school and became a helicopter pilot with the rank of Captain in the US Army (Photo: XY)

Despite his passion for literature and academics, Kris’s family eventually convinced him to join the Army, where he served as a helicopter pilot. His military career was impressive, and his bravery and dedication were recognized with numerous awards and medals.

Kris was also an accomplished athlete. He was an amateur boxer, excelled in rugby and track, and was even featured in Sports Illustrated for his exceptional ability to play American football.

Military career

Kris Kristofferson began his military service in 1960 when he joined the US Army. After completing Ranger School and Airborne School, he became a helicopter pilot and eventually rose through the ranks to become a US Army Captain. While in the Military, Kristofferson also pursued his passion for music and formed his band while stationed at a US Military base in Germany.

Despite being offered a teaching position in Literature at West Point, Kristofferson declined the opportunity to focus solely on his music career. He continued to write and perform music during his military service, honing his skills and building a following.

When Kris Kristofferson’s military career ended, he faced personal turmoil. His decision to leave the Army resulted in his family disowning him, and he went through a difficult divorce. However, his dedication to music paid off, and he soon gained recognition as a talented songwriter and performer.

Kris Kristofferson’s military service gave him valuable experiences and skills he would later apply to his music career. While he faced personal challenges, his determination and passion for music ultimately led him to success. His military service is a testament to his unyielding patriotism and valor.

“I want you to know I’m an Army brat; I was a captain in the Army and my brother was a jet pilot in the Navy. So I support our troops; I identify with them. But I sure as hell don’t identify with the bastards who sent them over there.”

Music and Hollywood career

Kris Kristofferson is a multi-talented artist who has made his mark in the music and film industries. His journey to success began when he moved to Nashville and took up a job as a janitor. However, this did not deter him from pursuing his passion for music. In addition to his work as a janitor, Kristofferson flew helicopters for oil rigs and utilized his spare time to write songs. During this period, he wrote some of his most successful songs.

Kris Kristofferson Famous Veteran in Blade (1998)
Kris Kristofferson in Hollywood blockbuster Blade in 1998 (Photo: IMDB)

Although his recordings of these songs did not achieve the success he hoped for, other artists recognized their potential and reached the charts with them. Kristofferson’s big break came after Johnny Cash introduced him at the Newport Folk Festival. He subsequently released his first album, “Me and Bobby McGee,” which was successful.

Throughout his career, Kristofferson has continued to allow other artists to use his songs while he worked on his recordings. He released the album “Silver-tongued Devil,” followed by his debut in the film industry with “The Last Movie.” This marked the beginning of his acting career.


Despite experiencing ups and downs in his music and acting career over the years, Kris Kristofferson remained active in both fields and cemented his position as one of the most prominent country music stars of his time. His immense contribution to the music industry was recognized in 1985 when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Additionally, he has received over 48 BMI Country and Pop Awards.

In 2011, Kristofferson was honored with the Veteran of the Year Award at the American Veteran Awards, with his fellow country legend and veteran Willie Nelson presenting him with the accolade. In his trademark straight-talking style, during his acceptance speech, Kristofferson opined that military service should be a requirement for political leaders.

Kristofferson has led a varied life, having worked in various fields such as amateur boxing, football, and rugby, serving as an Airborne Ranger, working on oil rigs, construction, and even fighting wildfires in Alaska. He often advises aspiring artists to write from their own experiences.

In summary, Kris Kristofferson is a multi-faceted figure whose talent and contribution to the music industry and acting have earned him critical acclaim and respect. His remarkable life experiences, insights, and advice inspire many who aspire to achieve greatness in their respective fields.

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1 thought on “Kris Kristofferson: From Army Captain to Hollywood Star”

  1. Last sentence, second last paragraph “Straight On!” An awfully good man, this country is in need of more like him!

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