Bonanza's Dan Blocker said he was glad he wasn't handsome

Blocker's role in Bonanza was proof that you don't need a beautiful face to make a pretty penny.

The Everett Collection

Typically, to be a leading man in a TV Western, you only needed three things: A horse, a hat, and a handsome face. However, Dan Blocker, who played the role of Hoss Cartwright in Bonanza, was proof that sometimes you only needed two of the three. 

Blocker was known for his imposing physical presence, which helped him stand out among his co-stars. At 6'4 and 300 pounds, his large frame, height, and broad shoulders added to his commanding appearance. 

We aren't saying Hoss wouldn't be someone's type, but according to a 1961 interview with Oakland Tribune, Blocker said he was ok with "not being handsome."

"Hell, I know I ain't physically attractive," Blocker said. "But there have always been guys around who weren't real handsome to look at. I have no illusions about myself and I'm better off for knowing my limitations."

"More good character actors have ruined themselves by trying to play romantic leads," Blocker continued. "The first thing any performer should do is stake out his limitations, then fill every space in his little sphere."

According to the interview, Blocker filled so much space with his 6'4 stature that he was even worried about riding the horses on the show.

"Everybody else in the show rides quarter horses," Blocker said. "I wouldn't dare. A small horse like that would break down in no time at all if he had to carry me around. So, I ride a Morgan Horse. He's no better off than I am. His name is Chubby."

Not only did Blocker know his limitations as an actor, but he also recognized the horse's limitations. Although he admitted to not being the most handsome character on Bonanza, he did become the most popular character in the Western. 

His character was a lovable giant, known for being kind-hearted, hilarious, a bit naive, and the heart of the Cartwright family. 

Blocker said that if men like Wallace Beery, Humphrey Bogart, and Spencer Tracy were able to build long and successful careers, he stood a pretty good chance too. He said it would take a lot of luck, but if all else failed, he could "always end up coaching football down in Texas."

"Be honest with you, I'm right glad I'm not handsome," Blocker said. "If I was, I wouldn't be playing Hoss right now. The worst roles ever written are for handsome leading men."

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5 Comments

MaryMitch 21 days ago
Hoss had some great stories; I think the writers identified more with him than his handsome brothers.
Bapa1 24 days ago
Hey, one of his earliest roles was a monster in a Three Stooges short.
harlow1313 24 days ago
Burt Mustin ruined his career by pursuing roles as an action hero.
LoveMETV22 harlow1313 24 days ago
He had his own views on hippies too.
Irish 24 days ago
Beauty is only skin deep. I'd rather have someone with a good heart, gentle , and loving and who is beautiful on the inside. I would choose "Hoss" over "Adam" anyday!
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