Kris Kristofferson: The Country Outlaw Who Went Hollywood

Entertainment | October 1, 2018

Kris Kristofferson on the cover of his 1970 debut album 'Kristofferson,' and in the 1977 film 'Semi-Tough.' Source: (discogs.com; United Artists/Getty Images)

The path was an unconventional one for Kris Kristofferson: from country outlaw to Hollywood and back. Kristofferson -- with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash -- was one of the original country music outlaws, and like more than a few country singers answered the call to be in movies. But Kristofferson, unlike some of those others, was actually a good actor. After Pat Garret & Billy The Kid, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and A Star Is Born, Kristofferson was a bona fide movie star -- while still recording albums and writing songs. Did we mention he penned the country classics "Me And Bobby McGee," "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and "Help Me Make It Through The Night?" 

Songwriter To The (Already) Famous

Left: Janis Joplin and Kris Kristofferson in 'Janis: Little Girl Blue' (2015). Right: Kristofferson in 'Cisco Pike' (1972). Source: IMDB

Multi-talented entertainer Kris Kristofferson found his first professional success as a songwriter, creating hits for other people, including Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Roger Miller, and Ray Price.

Some of the most notable songs he composed include, “Me and Bobby McGee,” Help Me Make it Through the Night,” “For the Good Times” and “Sunday Mornin’ Comin' Down.” Kristofferson started out as a well-known country music artist and songwriter and soon gained epic notoriety with a lot of big named artists. 

Joining Up With The Outlaws

Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings were the driving force behind the “outlaw country” music genre.

The four of them, who at times played together in a supergroup called The Highwaymen, were Nashville country music icons who embraced a non-conformist style borrowed from rock stars and a throwback musical taste that looked to Hank Williams and Bob Wills for inspiration. They decided that the best course of action was to pursue an independent songwriting and production path. 

Schooling, Sports, And Service

Prior to his music career, Kris Kristofferson was an athlete, featured in Sports Illustrated and was also a member of the United States Army.

Kristofferson attended college at Pomona College and Oxford University. He wanted to pursue a literary career and dreamed of being a novelist. Kristofferson was a college athlete who dabbled in the sport of boxing, played football and rugby as well as running track and field. Kris Kristofferson’s father was a career Army officer. After pressure from his family, Kristofferson joined the United States Army. His father had always dreamed that his son would follow in his footsteps and pursue a military career. During the '60s he was associated with the 8th Infantry Division and was stationed in West Germany. Kristofferson had undergone training as a helicopter pilot during his time in the Army. That, however, was short-lived but not before he formed a band with some of his comrades.

'Kris He Is A Movie Star...'

Kristofferson as Pat Garrett in 'Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid,' and with Ali MacGraw in 'Convoy.' Source: IMDB

After establishing his career as a musician, Kris Kristofferson also joined the ranks of Hollywood actors, acting opposite many other acting greats.

Kris he is a movie star and he's moved off to L.A....
--Hank Williams, Jr. 'All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down'

In addition to being a country music superstar, Kris Kristofferson was also an accomplished Hollywood actor. His first credited performance came in Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie (1971), which featured experimental storytelling and was a commercial failure. He is well known for starring in classic movies including Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973), Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), A Star is Born (1976), Semi-Tough (1977), Convoy (1978), and Heaven’s Gate (1980).

Recognition From His Peers, In Many Fields

Kris Kristofferson earned himself a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in the movie A Star is Born with Barbara Streisand.

In addition to earning a Golden Globe Award, Kris Kristofferson also earned other prestigious awards including the American Veterans Award, and Song of the Year Award for one of his songs and Songwriter of the year, both for the Country Music Awards.

In addition to his sports, military, music and acting connections, Kris Kristofferson has also been known for his high-profile personal relationships.  

Kris Kristofferson's Love Life

Kris Kristofferson married his first love, Frances Mavia Beer, in 1960. That relationship would be followed by others, including Janis Joplin, whom he had been dating at the time of her untimely death; and Rita Coolidge to whom he was married from 1973 to 1980. Kristofferson and Coolidge have reportedly remained close friends to this day, despite their breakup. Kris Kristofferson has been married to his current wife, Lisa since 1983. Kristofferson is now 82 years old and still goes on tour occasionally… not too shabby!

Tags: Kris Kristofferson | Outlaw Country | Rare Facts And Stories About History | The 1960s

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Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.