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Kristofferson, Kris 1936–(Kris Carson)

KRISTOFFERSON, Kris 1936
(Kris Carson)


PERSONAL


Born June 22, 1936, in Brownsville, TX; son of Henry C. (a U.S. Air Force major general) and Mary Ann (maiden name, Ashbrook) Kristofferson; married Fran Beir, 1960 (divorced, 1969); married Rita Coolidge (a singer and composer), August 19, 1973 (divorced, 1980); married Lisa Meyers (an attorney), February 18, 1983; children: (first marriage) Tracy, Kris; (second marriage) Casey; (third marriage) Jesse Turner, Jody Ray, Johnny, Kelly Marie, Blake Cameron. Education: Pomona College, B.A., creative literature, 1958; studied literature and poetry at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar.


Addresses: Agent IFA Talent Agency, 8730 Sunset Blvd., Suite 490, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Manager Current Entertainment, 1411 Fifth St., Suite 405, Santa Monica, CA 90401.


Career: Actor, composer, and singer. Formerly an English teacher at West Point; also worked as a bartender, janitor, oil helicopter pilot, forest firefighter, and boxer. Military service: U.S. Army, captain, 196065.


Awards, Honors: Song of the Year Award, Country Music Association, 1970, for "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down"; Grammy Award, best song, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and Best Song Award, TNN/Music City News, both 1971, for "Help Me Make It through the Night"; Grammy Award nomination, best song, 1971, for "Me and Bobby McGee"; Grammy Award nomination, country song of the year, 1971, for "For the Good Times"; Best Songwriter Awards, TNN/Music City News, 1971 and 1972; Best Song Award, TNN/Music City News, 1972, and Grammy Award nominations, country song of the year and best country vocalmale, both 1973, all for "Why Me?"; Grammy Awards, best vocal performance by a duo (with Rita Coolidge), 1973, for "From the Bottle to the Bottom," and 1975, for "Lover Please"; Grammy Award nomination (with Rita Coolidge), best vocal performance by a duo, 1974, for "Loving Arms"; Film Award nomination, best newcomer, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1974, for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid; Golden Globe Award, best actor in a film musical/comedy, 1977, for A Star Is Born; Academy Award nomination, best original song score, 1984, for Songwriter; Grammy Award nomination (with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash), best country group with vocal, 1985, and American Music Award (with Nelson, Jennings, and Cash), favorite country video single, 1986, both for Highwayman; Music City News Country Song-writers Awards, Roger Miller Memorial Award, 1995; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, favorite supporting actorhorror, 1999, for Blade; honorary doctorate, Pomona College, 1974; received Rhodes scholarship.


CREDITS


Film Appearances:

(Film debut) Minstrel Wrangler, The Last Movie (also known as Chinchero ), Universal, 1971.

Title role, Cisco Pike, Columbia, 1971.

Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, MetroGoldwynMayer, 1973.

Elmo Cole, Blume in Love, Warner Bros., 1973.

Vocalist, The Gospel Road, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1973.

Paco, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (also known as Traiganme la cabeza de Alfredo Garcia ), United Artists, 1974.

David, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Warner Bros., 1975.

John Norman Howard, A Star Is Born, Warner Bros., 1976.

Aaron Arnold, Vigilante Force, United Artists, 1976.

Jim Cameron, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, AvcoEmbassy, 1976.

Marvin "Shake" Tiller, SemiTough, United Artists, 1977.

Rubber Duck, Convoy, United Artists, 1978.

James Averill, Heaven's Gate (also known as Johnson County Wars ), United Artists, 1980.

Hub Smith, Rollover, Warner Bros., 1981.

Blackie Buck, Songwriter, TriStar, 1984.

Bob Logan, Flashpoint, TriStar, 1984.

Hawk, Trouble in Mind, Island Alive, 1986.

Mace Montana, Big Top PeeWee, Paramount, 1988.

Lieutenant Jack Robbins, Welcome Home, Columbia, 1989.

Bill Smith, Millennium, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1989.

Tom Holte, Sandino, 1990.

Stan Wozniak, Perfume of the Cyclone (also known as Night of the Cyclone ), Republic Home Video, 1990.

Jack Saunders, Original Intent, Paramount, 1992.

Gabriel, Knights, Paramount, 1993.

Joe Garvey, No Place to Hide, Cannon, 1993.

Tom, Cheatin' Hearts (also known as Paper Hearts ), Trimark Pictures, 1993.

Preacher, Pharaoh's Army, Orion Home Entertainment, 1995.

Sheriff Charlie Wade, Lone Star, Sony Pictures Classics, 1996.

Himself, Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival, Castle Music Pictures, 1997.

Orin Hanner, Sr., Fire Down Below, Warner Bros., 1997.

Ghost of Hank Williams, Forever Is a Long Time, 1997.

Bill Willis, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (also known as La fille d'un soldat ne pleure jamais ), October Films, 1998.

Voice of Doc, The Land before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock (animated), Universal Home Video, 1998.

Cody, Girls' Night, Granada Films, 1998.

Abraham Whistler, Blade, New Line Cinema, 1998.

John Burnett, Dance with Me, Columbia, 1998.

Eddie, The Joyriders, Trident Releasing, 1999.

Bronson, Payback, Paramount, 1999.

Rudolph Meyer, Father Damien (also known as Molokai: The Story of Father Damien and Damiaan ), Vine International Pictures, 1999.

Smilin' Jack, Limbo, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 1999.

Himself, The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack, Lot 47 Films, 2000.

Himself, Immaculate Funk, FBN Motion Pictures Inc., 2000.

Comanche, 2000.

Older Billy Coleman, Where the Red Fern Grows, DotyDayton Releasing, 2000.

Karubi, Planet of the Apes, Twentieth CenturyFox, 2001.

Bud, Chelsea Walls (also known as Chelsea Hotel ), 2001.

Shuck, Wooly Boys, PFG Entertainment, 2001.

Doctor "Doc" John Mitchell, DTox (also known as Eye See You, Detox, and Im Auge der Angst ), MCA/Universal, 2002.

Abraham Whistler, Blade II, New Line Cinema, 2002.

Narrator, John Ford Goes to War, FBN Motion Pictures, 2002.

Himself, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, 2003.

Film Work:

(With Rita Coolidge) Singer, The Last Movie, Universal, 1971.

Singer, Fat City, 1972.

Television Appearances; Series:

Super Dave, Showtime, 1987.

The Texas Connection, TNN, 1990.

Song performer, Country Music Spotlight, The Family Channel, 1994.

Host and narrator, Adventures of the Old West, The Disney Channel, 1994.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Ben Cole, The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck (also known as Act of Passion ), CBS, 1984.

Jesse James, The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James, NBC, 1986.

Ringo, Stagecoach, CBS, 1986.

Noble Adams, The Tracker (also known as Dead or Alive ), HBO, 1988.

Captain Rip Metcalf, Pair of Aces, CBS, 1990.

Captain Rip Metcalf, Another Pair of Aces: Three of a Kind, CBS, 1991.

Jericho Adams, Miracle in the Wilderness, TNT, 1991.

Jefferson Jones, Christmas in Connecticut, TNT, 1992.

Stan Mather, Trouble Shooters: Trapped beneath the Earth (also known as Trapped ), NBC, 1993.

Destiny, Sodbusters, Showtime, 1994.

Abraham Lincoln, Tad, The Family Channel, 1995.

Captain Jack Guthrie, Inflammable, CBS, 1995.

Himself, Big Dreams and Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story (also known as Paper Mansions: The Dottie West Story ), CBS, 1995.

Davis, Brother's Destiny (also known as The Road Home and Long Road Home ), 1996.

Owen Whistler, Blue Rodeo, CBS, 1996.

Narrator, Dead Man's Gun, Showtime, 1997.

Torrance, Outlaw Justice (also known as The Long Kill ), CBS, 1998.

Hugh Allison, Two for Texas, TNT, 1998.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Abner Lait, Freedom Road, NBC, 1979.

Curt Maddox, Blood and Orchids, CBS, 1986.

Devin Milford, Amerika, ABC, 1987.

Narrator, America's Music: The Roots of Country, TBS, 1996.

Steve Day, Tom Clancy's Netforce (also known as Net-Force ), ABC, 1999.

Lou Smit, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: JonBenet and the City of Boulder, CBS, 2000.

Narrator, American Roots Music, PBS, 2001.

Television Appearances; Specials:

I Believe in Music, NBC, 1973.

Marlo Thomas and Friends in Free to Be ... You and Me (also known as Free to Be ... You & Me ), ABC, 1974.

Himself/John Norman Howard, Barbra: With One More Look at You (also known as The Making of "A Star Is Born "), 1976.

Himself, A Salute to American Imagination, 1978.

Himself, A Gift of Song: The Music for UNICEF Special (also known as A Gift of Song: The Music for UNICEF Concert ), 1979.

Host, The Unbroken Circle: A Tribute to Mother May-belle Carter, 1979.

Johnny Cash: The First 25 Years, CBS, 1980.

Country Comes Home, CBS, 1981.

A Special Anne Murray Christmas, CBS, 1981.

Glen Campbell and Friends: The Silver Anniversary, HBO, 1984.

Johnny Cash: Christmas on the Road, CBS, 1984.

The 10th Anniversary Johnny Cash Christmas Special, CBS, 1985.

Himself, Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abromowitz, 1985.

The Door Is Always Open, syndicated, 1985.

Texas 150: A Celebration Special, ABC, 1986.

The Best of Farm Aid: An American Event, HBO, 1986.

The Academy of Country Music's 20th Anniversary Reunion, NBC, 1986.

A Tribute to Ricky Nelson, syndicated, 1987.

Welcome Home, HBO, 1987.

Kenny Rogers Classic Weekend, ABC, 1988.

A Country Music Celebration: The 30th Anniversary of the Country Music Association, CBS, 1988.

An AllStar Celebration: The '88 Vote, ABC, 1988.

Host, Buddy Holly and the CricketsA Tribute, PBS, 1988.

Judy Collins: Going Home, The Disney Channel, 1989.

Grammy Living Legends, CBS, 1989.

Texas and Tennessee ... A Musical Affair, TNN, 1990.

In the Hank Williams Tradition, PBS, 1990.

Farm Aid IV, TNN, 1990.

Martin Luther King, Jr., National Holiday Parade, TBS, 1992.

Highwaymen Live!, The Disney Channel, 1991.

The Highwaymen, TNN, 1992.

Farm Aid V, TNN, 1992.

Host, In Country: Songs of the Vietnam War, PBS, 1992.

Himself, Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron (also known as Sam Peckinpah: A Retrospective ), Arts and Entertainment, 1992.

Willie Nelson, the Big SixO: An AllStar Birthday Celebration (also known as Willie Nelson: The Big SixO ), CBS, 1993.

Farm Aid VI, TNN, 1993.

Host, The Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Celebration (also known as In the Spotlight ), PBS, 1993.

Kris Kristofferson: His Life and Work, 1993.

Willie Nelson: My Life, Arts and Entertainment, 1994.

Elvis Aron Presley: The Tribute, syndicated, 1994.

Coming and Going, PBS, 1994.

American Music Shop, TNN, 1994.

Host and narrator, "The Songs of Six Families," Great Performances, PBS, 1994.

Kris Kristofferson: Songwriter, The Disney Channel, 1995.

Dolly Parton: Treasures, CBS, 1996.

Himself, The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1996.

The 25th American Film Institute Life Achievement Award: A Salute to Martin Scorsese, CBS, 1997.

Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western, TNT, 1997.

The Life and Times of Willie Nelson, TNN, 1997.

Himself, Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival, 1997.

CMA 40th: A Celebration, CBS, 1998.

Himself, Roger Miller Remembered, TNN, 1998.

Himself, The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, CBS, 1998.

An AllStar Tribute to Johnny Cash, TNT, 1999.

Kris Kristofferson, Arts and Entertainment, 1999.

The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize Celebrating the Humor of Richard Pryor, Comedy Central, 1999.

AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Barbra Streisand, Fox, 2001.

Willie Nelson & Friends: Live and Kickin', USA Network, 2003.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 21st Annual Grammy Awards, 1979.

The 22nd Annual Grammy Awards, 1980.

The 18th Annual Country Music Association Awards, CBS, 1984.

The 19th Annual Country Music Association Awards, CBS, 1985.

The American Music Awards, ABC, 1986.

Host, The 20th Annual County Music Association Awards, CBS, 1986.

The 29th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 1987.

The 23rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, NBC, 1988.

The 21st Annual NAACP Image Awards, NBC, 1989.

Presenter, The 32nd Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 1990.

The 26th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, NBC, 1991.

The 27th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, NBC, 1992.

The 27th Annual Country Music Association Awards, CBS, 1993.

Music City News Country Songwriters Awards, TNN, 1995.

The 30th Annual CMA Awards, 1996.

The 32nd Annual CMA Awards, 1998.

The Kennedy Center Honors, CBS, 1998.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Dean Martin Presents Music Country, U.S.A., NBC, 1973.

Host, Saturday Night Live, NBC, 1976.

The Muppet Show, 1978.

The Larry Sanders Show, HBO, 1992.

Himself, "Arthur's Crises" (also known as "Artie's Crisis"), The Larry Sanders Show, HBO, 1994.

Narrator, Legends, VH1, 1996.

Narrator, Dead Man's Gun, Showtime, 1997.

Also appeared as guest, Johnny Cash Show, ABC; Rollin' on the River, syndicated; The Tonight Show, NBC; Late Night with David Letterman, NBC.


Stage Appearances:

Concert tours and appearances include Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI, 1969, and Welcome Home, Washington, DC, 1987. Numerous tours, with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson, as part of country band, the Highwaymen. Appeared in England as folk singer under the name Kris Carson.


RECORDINGS


Videos:

A Celebration, DID Productions, 1981.

Albums:

Kristofferson, Monument, 1970.

Me & Bobby McGee, Monument, 1971.

The SilverTongued Devil and I, Monument, 1971.

Jesus Was a Capricorn, Monument, 1972.

Border Lord, One Way, 1972.

Full Moon, A&M, 1973.

(With Rita Coolidge) Breakaway, Monument/Sony, 1974.

Spooky Lady's Sideshow, One Way, 1974.

Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame, One Way, 1975.

Third World Warrior, Mercury, 1976.

Surreal Thing, One Way, 1976.

The Songs of Kristofferson, Monument, 1977.

A Star Is Born, Monument, 1977.

(With Coolidge) Natural Act, A&M, 1978.

Easter Island, Columbia, 1978.

Big Sur Festival, 1978.

Shake Hands with the Devil, Columbia, 1979.

(With Willie Nelson) A Tribute to Willie and Kris, Columbia, 1981.

To the Bone, Columbia, 1981.

Winning Hand, Monument, 1983.

(With Nelson) Music from Songwriter, Columbia, 1984.

My Songs, CBS, 1984.

(With the group The Highwaymen [with Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings]) Highwayman, Columbia, 1985.

Repossessed, Mercury, 1987.

(Contributor) Randy Travis, Heroes & Friends, Warner, 1990.

(With The Highwaymen) Highwayman 2, Columbia, 1990.

(With The Borderlords) Third World Warrior, Mercury, 1990.

The Best of Kris Kristofferson, Sony, 1991.

Singer, Songwriter, Monument, 1991.

(With others) Live at the Philharmonic, Monument, 1992.

The Best of Kris Kristofferson, Sony, 1995.

(With The Highwaymen) The Road Goes on Forever, Liberty, 1995.

The Austin Sessions, Atlantic, 1999.

Also recorded (with Rita Coolidge) Full Moon.

WRITINGS


Film Songwriter:

Songwriter, TriStar, 1984.

Cheatin' Hearts, Trimark Pictures, 1993.


Kristofferson's songs have appeared in numerous films, including The Last Movie (also known as Chinchero ), Cisco Pike, TwoLane Blacktop, Clay Pigeon (also known as Trip to Kill ), Fat City, The Gospel Road, Blume in Love, Janis, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, Saint Jack, Honeysuckle Rose, OneTrick Pony, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Traveler, Maeve, Trouble in Mind, Something Wild, Mascara, Walking after Midnight, The War at Home, and UTurn.


Television Specials:

Just Friends, 1970.

Songwriter:

"Vietnam Blues," Buckhorn Music, 1965.

"For the Good Times," Buckhorn Music, 1968.

(With Fred L. Foster) "Me and Bobby McGee," Combine Music, 1969.

"Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," Combine Music, 1969.

"Help Me Make It through the Night," Combine Music, 1970.

"Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)," Combine Music, 1970.

(With Shel Silverstein) "Once More with Feeling," Combine Music, 1970.

(With Silverstein) "The Taker," Evil Eye Music, 1970.

"Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends," Combine Music, 1971.

"I'd Rather Be Sorry," Buckhorn Music, 1971.

"Why Me?," Resaca Music, 1972.

Also wrote numerous other songs, including "Jody and the Kid" and "When I Loved Her"; and with wife, Rita Coolidge, "From the Bottle to the Bottom," "Lover Please," and "Loving Arms."

OTHER SOURCES


Books:

Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Schirmer, 2001.

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 4, Gale Research, 1990.

Kalet, Beth, Kris Kristofferson, Quick Fox, 1979.

Periodicals:

Billboard, April 20, 1996, p. 50.

Entertainment Weekly, September 25, 1998, p. 68.

Interview, September, 1998, p. 124.

People Weekly, September 21, 1998, p. 103.

Texas Monthly, March, 1997, p. 126.

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Kristofferson, Kris

Kris Kristofferson

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

Kris Kristofferson's successful movie career has tended to obscure his considerable accomplishments as a singer and songwriter. In fact, the lanky Texas native established his career by writing and singing country music; his mournful lyrics and deceptively simple melodies helped to define the "progressive" Nashville sound in the late 1960s. Esquire contributor Tom Burke noted that Kristofferson is "one of the most respected, and his work among the most often performed, of contemporary songwriters. He is highly paid not only for the writing of songs but for the singing of them." In Best of the Music Makers, George T. Simon called Kristofferson "a balladeer of the dispossessed, the troubadour of losing and losers," who has brought "a gentle intensity to his portraits of frustration, defeat, and lost romance."

Kristofferson emerged in Nashville at the time when performers such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson were beginning to challenge the clean-cut, all-American image expected of country performers. It is no surprise that the scruffy, hard-living Kristofferson forged close friendships with these stars and has performed with them on stage and on television. Kristofferson's songs—many of them celebrations of drifting in the wrong direction—have established him as one of country music's "outlaws." TV Guide correspondent Neil Hickey found the artist a leading member of "a new breed of Nashville songwriters who [are] more literary, more poetic, less insular in their approaches."

A Rhodes Scholar

Kristofferson's "outlaw" image is a product of his adult years. As a young man he was every American family's model son: a Golden Gloves boxer who earned Phi Beta Kappa grades in college, winner of a prestigious Atlantic Monthly collegiate short-story contest, and a recipient of the coveted Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. The son of a career major general in the U.S. Air Force, Kristofferson seemed to be destined for the same sort of conservative success. The golden youth had one Achilles heel, however. He was passionately fond of country music, especially Hank Williams, and he liked to sing folk songs and accompany himself on guitar. While studying literature at Oxford he managed to sing and tour as Kris Carson, even appearing on British television.

Never particularly fond of academic life, Kristofferson eventually became disillusioned with Oxford. In 1960 he returned to the United States and joined the army. For a time it appeared that he might follow in his father's footsteps, as he moved through ranger school, parachute jump school, and pilot training, eventually becoming an able helicopter pilot. When his first tour of duty ended he reenlisted for another three years and was sent to Germany. There a friend persuaded him to send a few songs to a Nashville agent. In 1965 Kristofferson was on the verge of accepting a teaching position at West Point when he decided to move to Nashville instead. Against the wishes of his parents and his wife, he embarked for the South with little to sustain him but a handful of songs he had written.

A Major Nashville Songwriter

The following four years became "a struggle just to stay alive and write," according to Paul Hemphill in a New York Times Magazine feature. Kristofferson's struggle was the classic sort—he tended bar and even worked as the night janitor at a Columbia Records studio in order to make ends meet while he peddled his songs to the reigning country stars. Eventually two performers, Johnny Cash and Roger Miller, responded to Kristofferson's talent and persistence. Miller was the first to record a Kristofferson song, the winsome "Me and Bobby McGee." The minor country hit opened the doors, and other artists began recording his songs, including Jerry Lee Lewis, who scored a number two country hit with Kristofferson's collaboration with Shel Silverstein, "Once More with Feeling." For his part, Cash accepted Kristofferson's "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" and turned it into a number one hit. No one was more surprised than Kristofferson when the Country Music Association named "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" the 1970 song of the year. In a vision of country music's future, the long-haired Kristofferson ambled to the stage and shyly accepted his prize.

By that time Cash and Kristofferson had become fast friends. Cash persuaded Kristofferson to perform his own music, and the artist signed with Monument Records. From the outset, Kristofferson's music had its roots squarely in folk and country, but he found fans in the pop-rock arena as well. Even though every live concert became a battle with stage fright, Kristofferson achieved great popularity. He earned two gold singles on his own for "Silver Tongued Devil and I" and "Why Me, Lord?," and watched with satisfaction as Janis Joplin made "Me and Bobby McGee" into a major rock classic. Equally rewarding was Jerry Lee Lewis's version, which returned the piano pumping legend to the pop Top 40 for the first time in over a decade.

For the Record …

Born Kristoffer Kristofferson on June 22, 1936, in Brownsville, TX; son of U.S. Air Force major general; married Fran Beir, 1960 (divorced); married Rita Coolidge (a singer), 1973 (divorced, 1979); married Lisa Meyers (an attorney), February 18, 1983; children: (first marriage) Tracy, Kris; (second marriage) Casey; (third marriage) five. Education: Pomona College, B.A., 1958; attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, 1959

Helicopter pilot for U.S. Army, 1960–65; signed with Monument Records, 1969; author of numerous hit songs, including "Me and Bobby McGee," "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "For the Good Times," and "Why Me, Lord?"; worked as duet performer with former wife, Rita Coolidge, and as part of ensemble with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson; actor in feature films, including Cisco Pike, 1971, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, 1975, A Star Is Born, 1976, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, 1976, Semi-Tough, 1977, Heaven's Gate, 1980, Trouble in Mind, 1986, Amerika, 1987, Blade: Trinity, 2004, and The Jacket, 2005; recorded for Mercury, Buddha, Atlantic, Oh Boy, and New West Records, 1986–2006.

Awards: Country Music Association, Song of the Year citation for "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," 1970; Grammy award for Best Country Song for "Help Me Make it Through the Night," 1971; Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance by a Duo (with Rita Coolidge) for "From the Bottle to the Bottom," 1973; Grammy Awards for songwriting for "From the Bottle to the Bottom," 1973, and "Lover Please," 1975; Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actor in a Musical or Comedy, for A Star is Born, 1977; inducted into Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, 1977; Western Heritage Awards, Bronze Wrangler, for appearance in TV film Two for Texas, 1998; Golden Boot Award, 2003; inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame, 2004.

Addresses: Record company—New West Records, 9215 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212, website: http://www.newwestrecords.com. Website—Kris Kristofferson Official Website: http://www.kriskristofferson.com.

Juggled Music and Acting

Hollywood discovered Kristofferson in the early 1970s, and he added film appearances to his already busy schedule of touring and recording. In 1973 he married singer Rita Coolidge, and they performed as a countrypop duo, earning a number of Grammy nominations and awards together. Nevertheless, as Cheryl McCall noted in a People magazine article, Kristofferson's "peculiar insecurity led to near panic in the face of adulation and stardom." Between 1973 and 1977 Kristofferson took roles in more than a half-dozen feature films, some of which—particularly A Star Is Born—became embarrassments for him, although he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his role in the film. Plagued by drug and alcohol abuse, he divorced Coolidge and tried to set his life straight. The process took almost five years.

In Roger Ebert's book A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, Kristofferson told Ebert: "Getting high was supposed to be a method of opening the doors of perception for me, and what it was doing was shutting them…. It took me thirty years to admit I had a problem." With his newfound sobriety, Kristofferson remarried and gravitated back to country music, where he found his friends Cash, Nelson, and Jennings undergoing similar dryouts. In 1987 Kristofferson released a new album, Repossessed, that earned widespread praise. Once again he found himself in demand for live performances, and he also made several well-received films, including Amerika and Trouble In Mind. Hickey described the resurgent Kristofferson as "a middle-aged gent who's dead serious about his fathering, husbanding, songwriting, acting, record-making, and concert-giving."

In 1990 Kristofferson teamed with Cash, Nelson, and Jennings for a tour to promote the Highwayman II album. Kristofferson was in his element as a member of that foursome of road-weary troubadours, and his songs sensitively addressed the familiar themes of country music, those of lost love, loneliness, aimless wandering, and maverick lawlessness. Like his fellow "outlaws," Kristofferson gained a measure of respect from his well-publicized struggle for sobriety, as well as for his artistic integrity. He told Hickey that he now looks at life "like an old alcoholic" who "is trying to take it one day at a time."

Made Comeback During the 2000s

Kristofferson joined his fellow Highwaymen for a final album on Liberty in 1995. A confused, overproduced effort, The Road Goes on Forever contained none of the panache of the earlier efforts, and with Cash's health steadily declining, the supergroup quietly disbanded. Meanwhile, Kristofferson's albums for Mercury, Buddha, Atlantic and John Prine's Oh Boy labels garnered little notice and fewer sales. As age overtook his rugged good looks, his acting career dried up once again.

After elective bypass surgery in 1999, Kristofferson gave his career another push. Roles in such films as Payback and the Blade trilogy re-established him as a commanding screen presence. Moreover, supporting roles in the acclaimed 2005 independent film The Jacket and the Dreamworks family feature Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, established him as an important character actor. Musically, a contract with the independent New West label allowed him to make commercial yet relevant music on his own terms again. Even with a reinvigorated acting career, Kristofferson has stated that he wouldn't have gotten anywhere without his songwriting gifts. "I'll be doing that until they throw dirt on top of me," he told Holly Gleason of Country Standard Time. "To be honest, I wouldn't be doing any of it if it weren't for writing. I never would have gotten to make records if I didn't write. I wouldn't have gotten to tour without it. And I never would've been asked to act in a movie if I hadn't been known as a writer."

Selected discography

Singles

"Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)," Monument, 1971.
"Why Me, Lord?," Monument, 1973.
(With Rita Coolidge) "From the Bottle to the Bottom," Monument, 1973.
(With Coolidge) "Lover Please," Monument, 1975.

Albums

Kristofferson, Monument, 1970; reissued as Me and Bobby McGee, 1988.
The Silver Tongued Devil and I, Monument, 1971; reissued, 1988.
Border Lord, Monument, 1974.
Jesus Was a Capricorn, Monument, 1974.
Spooky Lady's Sideshow, Monument, 1974.
(With Coolidge) Breakaway, Monument, 1974; reissued, 1991.
(With Coolidge) Full Moon, &AM, 1975.
(With Barbra Streisand) A Star Is Born, Columbia, 1977.
Surreal Thing, Monument, 1978.
Big Sur Festival, Monument, 1978.
Songs of Kristofferson, Monument, 1978; reissued, 1988.
Easter Island, Monument, 1978.
Who's To Bless and Who's To Blame, Monument, 1978.
Shake Hands with the Devil, Monument, 1979.
To The Bone, Monument, 1981.
(With Willie Nelson) Music from Songwriter, Monument, 1984.
(With Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson) Highwayman, Columbia, 1985.
My Songs, Monument, 1986.
Repossessed, Mercury, 1987.
(With Jennings, Cash, and Nelson) Highwayman II, Columbia, 1990.
Third World Warrior, Mercury, 1990.
Live at the Philharmonic, Monument, 1992.
A Moment of Forever, Buddha, 1995.
(With Jennings, Cash, and Nelson) The Road Goes On Forever, Liberty, 1995.
The Austin Session, Atlantic, 1999.
The Essential Kris Kristofferson, Monument/Legacy, 2004.
Broken Freedom Song: Live from San Francisco, Oh Boy!, 2004.
This Old Road, New West, 2006.
Live from Austin, Texas, New West, 2006.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 5, Gale, 1989.

Ebert, Roger, A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, Andrews & McMeel, 1984.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, Harmony, 1977.

McCloud, Bruce, Definitive Country: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Country Music and Its Performers, Perigree, 1995.

Shestack, Melvin, The Country Music Encyclopedia, Crowell, 1974.

Simon, George T., Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Stambler, Irwin, and Grelun Landon, Country Music: The Encyclopedia, St. Martin's Griffin, 2000.

Periodicals

Esquire, December 1976; November 1981.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Canada), January 31, 1972.

Newsday, September 11, 1971.

New York Times, July 26, 1970; June 3, 1973.

New York Times Magazine, December 6, 1970.

Saturday Review, February 3, 1973.

TV Guide, October 12, 1985.

Online

"Kris Kristofferson," Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com (June 23, 2006).

"Kris Kristofferson," Country Standard Time, http://www.countrystandardtime.com (June 25, 2006).

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Kristofferson, Kris

Kris Kristofferson

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Kris Kristoffersons success in movies and on television tends to obscure his considerable accomplishments as a songwriter and vocal performer. In fact, the lanky Texas native established his career by writing and singing country music; his mournful lyrics and deceptively simple melodies helped to define the progressive Nashville sound in the late 1960s. Esquire contributor Tom Burke notes that Kristofferson is one of the most respected, and his work among the most often performed, of contemporary songwriters. He is highly paid not only for the writing of songs but for the singing of them. In Best of the Music Makers, George T. Simon calls Kristofferson a balladeer of the dispossessed, the troubadour of losing and losers, who has brought a gentle intensity to his portraits of frustration, defeat, and lost romance.

Kristofferson emerged in Nashville at the time when performers such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson were beginning to challenge the clean-cut, all-American image expected of country performers. It is no surprise that the scruffy, hard-living Kristofferson forged close friendships with these stars and has since performed with them on stage and on television. Indeed, Kristoffersons songsmany of them celebrations of drifting in the wrong direction have established him as one of country musics outlaws. TV Guide correspondent Neil Hickey finds the artist a leading member of a new breed of Nashville songwriters who [are] more literary, more poetic, less insular in their approaches.

Kristoffersons outlaw image is a product of his adult years. As a young man he was every American familys model son: a Golden Gloves boxer who earned Phi Beta Kappa grades in college, winner of a prestigious Atlantic Monthly collegiate short-story contest, and recipient of the coveted Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. The son of a career major general in the U.S. Air Force, Kristofferson seemed to be destined for the same sort of conservative success. The golden youth had one Achilles heel, however. He was passionately fond of country music, especially Hank Williams, and he liked to sing folk songs and accompany himself on guitar. While studying literature at Oxford he managed to sing and tour as Kris Carson, even appearing on British television.

Never particularly fond of academic life, Kristofferson eventually became disillusioned with Oxford. In 1960 he returned to the United States and joined the army. For a time it appeared that he might follow in his fathers footsteps, as he moved through ranger school, parachute-jump school, and pilot training, eventually becoming an able helicopter pilot. When his first tour of duty ended he reenlisted for another three years and

For the Record

Full name Kristoffer Kristofferson; born June 22, 1936, in Brownsville, Tex.; son of U.S. Air Force major general; married Fran Beir, 1960 (divorced); married Rita Coolidge (a singer), August 19, 1973 (divorced, 1979); married Lisa Meyers (an attorney), February 18, 1983; children: (first marriage) Tracy, Kris; (second marriage) Casey; (third marriage) two. Education: Pomona College, B.A., 1958; attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, 1959.

Helicopter pilot for United States Army, 1960-65. Songwriter, singer, and composer, 1965; actor, 1970. Signed with Monument Records, 1969. Author of numerous songs, including Me and Bobby McGee, Sunday Mornin Comin Down, Help Me Make It Through the Night, Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything Ill Ever Do Again), For the Good Times, and Why Me, Lord? Has worked as a solo performer, a duet performer with former wife, Rita Coolidge, and part of an ensemble with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson.

Actor in feature films, including Cisco Pike, 1971, Alice Doesnt Live Here Anymore, 1975, A Star Is Born, 1976, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, 1976, Semi-Tough, 1977, Heavens Gate, 1980, Trouble in Mind, 1986, and Amerika, 1987.

Awards: Song of the year citation from Country Music Association, 1970, for Sunday Mornin Comin Down; Grammy Award nominations for best song, both 1971, for Help Me Make It through the Night and Me and Bobby McGee; Grammy Award nominations for best country song, 1971, for For the Good Times, and 1973, for Why Me, Lord?; Grammy Award for best vocal performance by a duo (with Rita Coolidge), 1973; Grammy Awards for songwriting, 1973, for From the Bottle to the Bottom, and 1975, for Lover Please. Honorary doctorate awarded by Pomona College, 1974.

Addresses: Other 3179 Sumacridge Dr., Malibu, Calif. 90265.

was sent to Germany. There a friend persuaded him to send a few songs to a Nashville agent. In 1965 Kristofferson was on the verge of accepting a teaching position at West Point when he decided to move to Nashville instead. Against the wishes of his parents and his wife, he embarked for the South with little to sustain him but a handful of songs he had written.

The following four years became a struggle just to stay alive and write, according to Paul Hemphill in a New York Times Magazine feature. Kristoffersons struggle was the classic sorthe tended bar and even worked as the night janitor at a Columbia Records studio in order to make ends meet while he peddled his songs to the reigning country stars. Eventually two performers responded to Kristoffersons talent and persistenceJohnny Cash and Roger Miller. Miller was the first to record a Kristofferson song, the winsome Me and Bobby McGee. Cash accepted Kristoffersons Sunday Mornin Comin Down and turned it into a Number 1 hit. No one was more surprised than Kristofferson when the Country Music Association named Sunday Mornin Comin Down the 1970 song of the year. In a vision of country musics future, the long-haired Kristofferson ambled to the stage and shyly accepted his prize.

By that time Cash and Kristofferson had become fast friends. Cash persuaded Kristofferson to perform his own music, and the artist signed with Monument Records. From the outset Kristoffersons music had its roots squarely in folk and country, but he found fans in the pop-rock arena as well. Even though every live concert became a battle with stage fright, Kristofferson achieved great popularity. He earned two gold singles on his own for Silver Tongued Devil and I and Why Me, Lord?, and he watched with satisfaction as Janis Joplin made Me and Bobby McGee into a major rock classic.

Hollywood discovered Kristofferson in the early 1970s, and he added film appearances to his already-busy schedule of touring and recording. In 1973 he married singer Rita Coolidge, and they performed as a country-pop duo, earning a number of Grammy nominations and awards together. Nevertheless, as Cheryl McCall notes in a People magazine article, Kristoffersons peculiar insecurity led to near panic in the face of adulation and stardom. Between 1973 and 1977 Kristofferson took roles in more than a half-dozen feature films, some of whichparticularly A Star Is Born became major embarrassments for him. Plagued with drug and alcohol abuse, he divorced Coolidge and tried to set his life straight. The process took almost five years.

Kristofferson told Roger Ebert: Getting high was supposed to be a method of opening the doors of perception for me, and what it was doing was shutting them. It took me thirty years to admit I had a problem. With his newfound sobriety, Kristofferson remarried and gravitated back to country music, where he found his friends Cash, Nelson, and Jennings undergoing similar dryouts. In 1987 Kristofferson released a new album, Repossessed, that earned widespread praise. Once again he found himself in demand for live performances, and he also made several well-received films, including Amerika and Trouble In Mind. Hickey described the resurgent Kristofferson as a middle-aged gent whos dead serious about his fathering, husbanding, songwriting, acting, record-making, and concert-giving.

In 1990 Kristofferson teamed with Cash, Nelson, and Jennings for a tour to promote the Highwayman II album. Kristofferson is indeed in his element as a member of that foursome of road-weary troubadours. His songs address familiar themes in country music lost love, loneliness, aimless wandering, and maverick lawlessnessbut they do so with a degree of sensitivity and sophistication one might expect from a Rhodes Scholar who wanted to be a novelist. Like his fellow outlaws, Kristofferson has gained a measure of respect from his well-publicized struggle for sobriety as well as for his artistic integrity. The bashful singer told TV Guide that he now looks at life like an old alcoholic who is trying to take it one day at a time.

Selected discography

Singles

Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything Ill Ever Do Again), Monument, 1971.

Why Me, Lord?, Monument, 1973.

(With Rita Coolidge) From the Bottle to the Bottom, Monument, 1973.

(With Coolidge) Lover Please, Monument, 1975.

Albums

Kristofferson, Monument, 1970, rereleased as Me and Bobby McGee, 1988.

The Silver Tongued Devil and I, Monument, 1971, rereleased, 1988.

Border Lord, Monument, 1974.

Jesus Was a Capricorn, Monument, 1974.

Spooky Ladys Sideshow, Monument, 1974.

(With Rita Coolidge) Full Moon, A & M, 1975.

(With Barbra Streisand) A Star Is Born, Columbia, 1977.

Surreal Thing, Monument, 1978.

Big Sur Festival, Monument, 1978.

Songs of Kristofferson, Monument, 1978, rereleased, 1988.

Easter Island, Monument, 1978.

Whos To Bless and Whos To Blame, Monument, 1978.

Shake Hands with the Devil, Monument, 1979.

(With Coolidge) Breakaway, Monument.

To The Bone, Monument, 1981.

My Songs, Monument, 1986.

Repossessed, Mercury, 1987.

(With Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson) Highwayman, Columbia.

(With Jennings, Cash, and Nelson) Highwayman II, Columbia, 1990.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 5, Gale, 1989.

Ebert, Roger, A Kiss Is Still a Kiss, Andrews & McMeel, 1984.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, Harmony, 1977.

Shestack, Melvin, The Country Music Encyclopedia, Crowell, 1974.

Simon, George T., Best of the Music Makers, Doubleday, 1979.

Periodicals

Esquire, December 1976; November 1981.

Globe & Mail (Toronto), January 31, 1972.

Newsday, September 11, 1971.

New York Times, July 26, 1970; June 3, 1973.

New York Times Magazine, December 6, 1970.

Saturday Review, February 3, 1973.

TV Guide, October 12, 1985.

Anne Janette Johnson

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Kristofferson, Kris

KRISTOFFERSON, Kris



Nationality: American. Born: Brownsville, Texas, 22 June 1936. Education: Pomona College (Phi Beta Kappa scholar; majored in creative writing); Oxford (Rhodes scholar). Military Service: U.S. Army Captain, 1960–65 (based in Germany). Career: English teacher (West Point); Country and Western singer/songwriter, from 1965; Recording artist, from 1970; narrator for Dead Man's Gun television series, 1997; narrator for VH1 Legends television series, 1999. Address: c/o One Way, 1 Prospect Avenue, P.O. Box 6429, Albany, NY 12206, U.S.A.


Films as Actor:

1971

The Last Movie (Chinchero) (Hopper) (+ ro as Whistler, mus)

1972

Cisco Pike (Norton) (as Cisco Pike) (+ mus)

1973

Blume in Love (Mazursky) (as Elmo Cole) (+ mus); Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Peckinpah) (as William H. "Billy the Kid" Bonney); The Gospel Road (Elfstrom) (+ ro as Vocalist, mus)

1974

Free to Be . . . You and Me (Davis, Steckier, Wolf) (+ro as Songer); Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Traiganmela cabeza de Alfredo Garcia) (Peckinpah) (as Paco); Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Scorsese) (as David)

1976

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (Carlino) (as Jim Cameron) (+ mus); A Star Is Born (Pierson) (as John Norman Howard); Vigilante Force (Armitage) (as Aaron Arnold)

1978

Semi-Tough (Ritchie) (as Shake Tiller); Convoy (Peckinpah) (as Rubber Duck)

1979

Freedom Road (Kadár—for TV) (as Abner Lait)

1980

Heaven's Gate (Johnson County Wars) (Cimino) (as James Averill)

1981

Rollover (Pakula) (as Hubbell Smith)

1984

Flashpoint (Tannen) (as Logan); Songwriter (Rudolph) (as Blackie Buck) (+ mus); The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck (Act of Passion) (Langton—for TV) (as Ben Cole)

1985

Trouble in Mind (Rudolph) (as Hawk)

1986

The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James (Graham—for TV); Blood and Orchids (Thorpe) (as Curt Maddox); Stagecoach (Post) (as Ringo)

1987

Amerika (TV mini-series) (Wrye) (as Devin Milford)

1988

Big Top Pee-Wee (Kleiser) (as Mace Montana); The Tracker (Dead or Alive) (Guillermin—for TV) (as Noble Adams)

1989

Millennium (Anderson) (as Bill Smith); Welcome Home (Schaffner) (as Jake)


1990

Sandino (Littin) (as Tom Holte); Night of the Cyclone (Perfume of the Cyclone) (Irving) (as Stan); Pair of Aces (Lipstadt—for TV)

1991

Another Pair of Aces: Three of a Kind (Bixby) (as Rip)

1992

Original Intent (Marcarelli) (as Jack Saunders); No Place to Hide (Danus) (as Joe Garvey); Miracle in the Wilderness (Dobson—for TV) (as Jericho Adams); Christmas in Connecticut (Schwarzenegger—for TV) (as Jefferson)

1993

Paper Hearts (Cheatin' Hearts) (McCall) (as Tom); Knights (Pyun) (as Gabriel); Trouble Shooters: Trapped Beneath the Earth (May—for TV) (as Stan Mather)

1994

Sodbusters (Levy—for TV) (as Destiny)

1995

Pharoah's Army (Henson) (as Preacher); Inflammable (Werner—for TV); Brothers' Destiny (Long Road Home, The Road Home) (Hamilton—for TV) (as Davis); Adventures of the Old West (Purvis—for TV); Big Dreams and Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story (D'Elia—for TV) (as himself); Tad (Thompson—for TV) (as Abraham Lincoln)

1996

Blue Rodeo (Werner—for TV); Dolly Parton: Treasures (for TV); Lone Star (Sayles) (as Sheriff Charlie Wade)

1997

Fire Down Below (Alcalá) (as Orin Hanner Sr.); Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival (Lerner) (as himself)

1998

Dance with Me (Haines) (as John Burnett); Blade (Norrington) (as Abraham Whistler); A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries(Ivory) (as Bill Willis); Girl's Night (Hurran) (as Cody); Outlaw Justice (Corcoran—for TV) (as Tarence); Two for Texas (Hardy—for TV) (as Hugh Allison); The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock (Grosvenor) (as voice of Doc)

1999

Netforce (Leiberman) (mini—for TV) (as Steve Day); Payback (Helgeland) (as Bronson); Limbo (Sayles) (as Smilin' Jack); Molokai: the Story of Father Damien (Cox) (as Rudolph Meyer); The Joyriders (Battersby) (as Eddie)

2000

The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack (Elliot) (as Himself); Perfect Murder, Perfect Town (Schiller) (mini—for TV) (as Lou Ritt)

2001

Eye See You (Gillespie) (as Doc)



Other Films:

1971

Clay Pigeon (Slate and Stern) (mus)

1972

Fat City (Huston) (mus)



Publications


On KRISTOFFERSON: books—

Shipman, David. The Great Movie Stars 3. The International Years, London, 1991.

Weddle, David. If They Move. . . Kill 'Em. The Life and Times of Sam Peckinpah, New York, 1994.


* * *

Active in the film industry for thirty years, Kris Kristofferson never seemed too bothered about movie stardom. Already a major singer-songwriter and recording artist, the anti-establishment author of "Help Me Make It through the Night" and "Me and Bobby McGee" adapted well to acting without developing either a dominant film presence or a discernable career plan. Ruggedly handsome, Kristofferson appeared relaxed and easygoing onscreen, agreeably masculine rather than aggressively macho, confident enough in himself to be believably sensitive and caring towards the likes of Ellen Burstyn and Barbra Streisand. During the mid 1970s, Kristofferson carved a niche as Hollywood's premiere romantic co-star, yet the big hits were credited to his bigger-name leading ladies, leaving him with doubtful commercial standing as a solo act. Kristofferson's ambivalence towards the movie business didn't help, the actor abruptly quitting the wartime romance Hanover Street (1979), then announcing his retirement. Judging by Kristofferson's subsequent career, many film executives took him at his word. That said, even the peak period of the 1970s was an uncertain time for Kristofferson, his first decade in movies topped and tailed by appearances in two of Hollywood's most notorious flops (The Last Movie; Heaven's Gate), with some bizarre choices in between. Whether bearded or clean-shaven, singing or non-singing, Kris Kristofferson never quite found his movie niche.

Kristofferson's starring debut in Bill Norton's sour LA story Cisco Pike is probably still his finest screen performance.

Effectively—if predictably—cast as Pike, a fading pop singer and reluctant drug dealer, Kristofferson's amiable character is in tune with the era: alienated, rootless, amoral and casually promiscuous. At times, Pike's laidback manner slides into outright lethargy, even when trashing a difficult client's office. Victimised by Gene Hackman's blackmailing cop, he puts up only token resistance. Arguably too straight-looking for a seasoned pusher, Kristofferson lets his songs bridge any credibility gaps: "From the rocking of the cradle/To the rolling of the hearse/The going up was worth the coming down." Driving off alone down a desert road at the end, Pike doesn't seem so sure: "It ain't fun no more."

Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid should be a highpoint of Kristofferson's career, yet in truth he was cast more for his chart success and "rebel" image than his acting ability. Producer Gordon Carroll wanted to draw a parallel between the "romantic" Western outlaw and the modern-day pop idol, both prisoners—and victims—of their mythical status. Peckinpah and scriptwriter Rudolph Wurlitzer fail to bring either the concept or the character to life, devoting their attentions to James Coburn's embittered, cynical, haunted Garrett. Looking self-conscious without his trademark beard, Kristofferson seems out of place in Peckinpah's West. His most memorable scene involves turning a shotgun loaded with dimes on R. G. Armstrong's unfortunate deputy ("Keep the change, Bob"), the drama taking a back seat to bloody pyrotechnics and a throwaway sick joke. Five years and five movies down the line, the bearded Kristofferson appears much more comfortable in Peckinpah's largely despised demolition derby Convoy, scripted by Bill Norton from the hit song by C. W. McCall. Kristofferson's trucker outlaw hero Rubber Duck is easy-going, sly, a natural—if reluctant—leader of men and a born philosopher: "Stay smooth on the surface and paddle like the devil underneath." Displaying an intense, determined quality rarely seen in his other movies, Kristofferson lends a much-needed edge to the comic book hijinks, even the climactic fake martyrdom failing to undermine his earlier hint of despair over the truckers' plight: "Who the hell else they got? Nobody, that's who."

Scoring his first popular success as Ellen Burstyn's rancher-musician boyfriend in Alice, Kristofferson fought against typecasting, taking the title role in the ill-conceived arthouse fantasy The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea and playing his first villain—a murderous Vietnam Veteran—in the throwaway action movie Vigilante Force. He did better as the booze-soaked Jim Morrison substitute in Streisand's mega-hit vanity project A Star Is Born, bringing both dignity and humanity to a stereotyped burned-out rock 'n' roll dinosaur. Even in Michael Cimino's fiasco-on-the-range Heaven's Gate, Kristofferson provides a solid, world-weary presence as the moral, Harvard-educated sheriff, countering the overall lack of plausible characterisation and narrative coherence.

Off screen for three years after a second major flop with the Jane Fonda vehicle Rollover, Kristofferson returned to films in Alan Rudolph's Songwriter, comfortably playing opposite fellow music veteran Willie Nelson in an agreeably laidback tale that offers no great insight into the country music business. Kristofferson's original score netted an Academy Award nomination, perhaps an indication of where many felt his real talents lay. Reuniting with Rudolph for the near-future parable Trouble in Mind, Kristofferson gave his strongest performance for years, cast as an idealistic ex-cop/ex-con who returns to Rain City to find his former love. Part of a fine ensemble cast—including Genevieve Bujold, Lori Singer, Keith Carradine, Joe Morton, and Divine—Kristofferson's typically low key approach blends in very well.

Still in demand, Kristofferson's presence in recent movies such as Blade and Payback suggests not so much a grizzled screen icon offering integrity-for-hire, as a music veteran and occasional character actor marking time between tour dates. The pick of Kristofferson's 1990s output is undoubtedly his high-profile cameo role in John Sayle's Lone Star. Appearing in extended flashbacks as the late, unlamented sheriff of 1950s Rio County, Texas, Kristofferson turns his usual screen image on its head, portraying an irredeemably vile man. With narrow eyes set in a heavy, lined face, the swaggering, arrogant Charley Wade offers soft-spoken menace and a cobra smile. Racist, corrupt, and homicidal, Wade recalls Cisco Pike's lawman adversary Leo Holland, complete with short hair and clipped moustache, a neat full circle for Kristofferson. Fittingly, Wade starts and ends the film as bullet-blasted bone fragments. Was his going up worth the coming down?

—Daniel O'Brien

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