Kris Kristofferson: From Army Captain to Hollywood Star

Author: Eric Sof

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Kris Kristofferson is a famous Hollywood actor and a military veteran. He is well-known for his country tunes and talent on the silver screen, but if that isn’t enough to impress you, his time in the US Army might.

Early life

Born to Mary Ann and US Army Air Corps officer Lars Kristofferson, Kris Kristofferson spent his early years shuffling around like any average military child. He obtained a BA in literature from Pomona College in 1958 and later earned a scholarship to Oxford. After graduation, his family finally pressured him into joining the Army and marrying his girlfriend from high school.

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

Kris Kristofferson was a very talented athlete. He was an amateur boxer, and he was also was skilled at rugby and track, and was even featured in Sports Illustrated for his natural talent playing American football.

Military career

Joining US Army in 1960, Kris Kristofferson’s military service started as a helicopter pilot after completing Ranger School and Airborne School; he eventually worked his way to the rank of US Army Captain. During this time, Kristofferson continued to work on music and even formed his band while stationed at US Military base in Germany. He was offered a teaching position in Literature at West Point, but he turned it down to focus on music.

By the time Kris Kristofferson’s military career ended, his family disowned him for leaving the Army, and he had gone through a bitter divorce.

YouTube video

“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 moved to Nashville, earned money as a janitor, and flew helicopters for oil rigs. He wrote some of his most successful songs during this time, and while his recordings of them didn’t quite make it, other artists reached the charts with them. After Johnny Cash introduced him at the Newport Folk Festival, he released his first album, “Me and Bobby McGee,” to great success. He continued letting other artists use his songs while working on his recordings. After releasing the album “Silver-tongued Devil,” Kristofferson launched his acting career with “The Last Movie.”

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


While both his music and acting career have seen dips and turns over the years, Kristofferson is still active in both professions and has secured his position as one of the great country music stars of his time. Kris Kristofferson was inducted into the songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1985 and has earned over 48 different BMI Country and Pop Awards.

Kris Kristofferson also received the Veteran of the Year Award at the American Veteran Awards in 2011, with fellow country legend and vet Willie Nelson presenting the honor. True to his straight-shooting nature, he noted during his acceptance speech, “Maybe military service oughta be a requirement of our political leaders today.”

Kris Kristofferson is a figure that has gone through many things in his life. The primary advice he offers to those willing to listen is writing from your own experience. As if amateur boxing, football, rugby, being an Airborne Ranger, or working on oil rigs weren’t manly enough, he was also an ordinary man working in construction and fighting wildfires in Alaska.

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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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