Who Was Dan Blocker?
Dan was an American actor, best known for his role as Hoss Cartwright in the popular TV series “Bonanza”, in addition to many other roles he had during his career.
How Did Dan Blocker Die?
Dan died on 13 May 1972, at the age of 43. His death was a result of complications during gallbladder surgery.
Dan Blocker had been suffering from gallstones, which led to the decision to undergo surgery to remove his gallbladder. However, during the procedure, a post-operative blood clot formed in one of his lung’s arteries, causing a pulmonary embolism. Unfortunately, this complication proved fatal, and Blocker passed away.
His unexpected death shocked fans and the entertainment industry, as he was a beloved actor and a prominent figure in the television show “Bonanza”.
Dan Blocker Wiki: Age, Childhood, and Education
Bobby Dan Davis Blocker was born on 10 December 1928 in De Kalb, Texas, USA, the son of Ora ‘Shack’ Blocker and his wife, Mary Arizona. He went to Texas Military Institute in his childhood, and eventually obtained a degree in speech and drama from Sul Ross State University. Furthermore, he obtained a master’s degree in the dramatic arts.
During the Korean War, Dan Blocker was drafted into the US Army, and underwent basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and subsequently served as an infantry sergeant in F Company, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division in Korea from December 1951 to August 1952. Blocker demonstrated bravery in combat, and was awarded a Purple Heart for his wounds. Additionally, he received several other honors and medals, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars, the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean War Service Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Life Before Acting
After his military service, Dan Blocker pursued a career in education. From 1953 to 1954, he worked as a high-school English and drama teacher in Sonora, Texas, later serving as a sixth-grade teacher and coach at Eddy Elementary School in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Subsequently, he continued his teaching profession in California.
Acting Career Beginnings
Dan embarked on his acting career in the late 1950s, taking on various minor roles that showcased his versatility and talent. In 1957, he portrayed Mike the Bartender, in the film “The Girl in Black Stockings”. The movie, featuring stars such as Lex Barker and Anne Bancroft, revolved around a small-town murder investigation. That same year, Blocker appeared as a Blacksmith in the film “Black Patch”, and as a Bartender in “Gunsight Ridge”.
Blocker’s television roles during this period included Pete in an episode of “Cheyenne”entitled “Land Beyond the Law” (1957), and in the same year The Goon in the Three Stooges short film “Outer Space Jitters”. He also appeared in multiple episodes of “The Restless Gun” (1957-1958) as Olaf Burland, Jub Buckstar, John El Bruto, Fred Burgermen, and Ike Burnett.
In 1958, Blocker guest-starred as Joe in an episode of “Have Gun – Will Travel” entitled “Gun Shy”, then he also portrayed Pete Snipe in an episode of “The Rifleman” called “The Sister” and appeared in two episodes of “Gunsmoke” as Lieutenant and Keller in the episodes “Alarm at Pleasant Valley” and “Thoroughbreds”, respectively.
Rise to Stardom
Dan Blocker achieved immense success and widespread recognition through his iconic role as Eric “Hoss” Cartwright in the long-running TV series “Bonanza”. The show aired from 1959 to 1972, spanning an impressive 415 episodes, making it one of the longest-running Western series in television history.
“Bonanza” revolved around the lives and adventures of the Cartwright family, who owned and operated the Ponderosa Ranch in Nevada during the 1860s. Blocker’s Hoss Cartwright was known for his kind-hearted nature, physical strength, and endearing personality. He became a beloved figure among viewers, with his portrayal resonating deeply with the audience.
Remember 'Hoss' from Bonanza? The one and only Dan Blocker was born on this day in 1928 in DeKalb, Texas. pic.twitter.com/8t0cUQnuJw
— TEXAZ Grill (@TEXAZGrill) December 10, 2018
Blocker’s on-screen chemistry and dynamic interactions with the other main stars of the show, including Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright, Michael Landon as Little Joe Cartwright and Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright, contributed to the immense popularity of “Bonanza”. The series addressed various themes, including family values, morality and the challenges of frontier life, captivating audiences for over a decade.
Tragically, Dan Blocker’s untimely death in 1972 had a profound impact on the show. To acknowledge his passing, the writers and producers incorporated Hoss Cartwright’s death into the storyline. They believed that no other actor could adequately fill the role of Hoss Cartwright, which led them to make a groundbreaking decision. For the first time in television history, the producers opted to kill off a young major male character to honor Blocker’s legacy, and to acknowledge the irreplaceability of his character.
The episode that addressed Hoss Cartwright’s death was entitled “Forever”. Although Hoss’s demise was not depicted on-screen, it was explained within the storyline that he had tragically died in a riding accident. This approach allowed the show to pay tribute to Blocker’s character and the impact he had on the series.
It wasn’t until the TV movie “Bonanza: The Next Generation” that further details surrounding Hoss’s death were revealed. The movie explained that Hoss had drowned while attempting to save a woman’s life, shedding light on the circumstances surrounding his passing.
Dan Blocker had several notable film projects – in 1963, he appeared in the comedy film “Come Blow Your Horn”, portraying Mr. Eckman. The film, based on a play by Neil Simon, centered around a young man who seeks independence from his overbearing family.
In 1968, Blocker starred as Waldo Gronsky in “Lady in Cement”. This detective mystery film featured Frank Sinatra as the lead, and followed a private investigator’s quest to solve a murder case.
The same year, Blocker also appeared in the television movie “Something for a Lonely Man”, playing the role of John Killebrew. The film revolves around a farmer’s struggle to adjust to changing times in the Old West.
In 1970, Blocker featured as Charley in “The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County”. This Western comedy depicts the misadventures of a group of cowboys who attempt to strike it rich in a mining town.
According to authoritative sources, Dan Blocker’s net worth was estimated at $5 million at the time of his untimely passing.
Personal Life, Marriage, Wife, Children
Dan Blocker was married to Dolphin Parker Blocker from 1952 until his death. The couple had four children, including Dirk Blocker, an actor, and David Blocker, who is a film producer. Recognized for his height, Dan Blocker stood at 6ft 4ins (1.93m), while he weighed 300lbs (140kgs).