Dan Blocker hated the spotlight so much he moved his family to Switzerland

It was a long way from the Ponderosa Ranch, but Blocker loved his little life in Switzerland

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Dan Blocker was one of the country's most successful (and richest) actors during his time as the gentle giant, Hoss Cartwright, in the hit series Bonanza (1959).

His fans adored him, his co-stars admired him and kids wanted to be him; Blocker loved everything about being an actor, except for being in the spotlight.

Blocker wanted to act and perform without all of the fame that came with it, but he was just too good at playing the part of Hoss. Bonanza fans fell in love with his character, and Blocker started getting the attention he deserved but didn't really want.

Most actors come to accept fame, but Blocker moved to another country in order to escape it.

In a 1971 interview with The Anniston Star, Blocker said he moved his family to Lugano, Switzerland. He intended to make his residence in Switzerland whenever he wasn't working on the hit series. But how did Blocker end up in Switzerland of all places?

"Well, I happen to be a subscriber to National Geographic Magazine," Blocker said. "One time they did a spread on the lake country of Italy and Switzerland, and it knocked my eye out. My wife and I had been to Europe once, and I told her, 'The next time we go, we gotta see that lake country.'"

According to the interview, the Blocker family visited the country in 1970 and were in awe of the beauty and culture. It felt like home to Blocker, so he made it just that.

On their trip, they visited Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, and Lugano, which Blocker said was "the prettiest place I ever saw." The family also discovered an American school nearby in Lugano. In 1970, the family started fresh in Switzerland.

"It's great for the kids," Blocker said. "They go to a fine school, they're learning languages, and all of Europe is just a short train ride away. I was there for the holidays and I get back whenever I can break away."

At the time, a rumor had spread about Blocker's decision to move to Switzerland. Many believed it was because of financial reasons, but Blocker said that Bonanza made him a millionaire. 

He added that he needed to pay more in taxes and dual citizenship to live abroad, so money wasn't the main motivation. Many others suspected that it was the isolation of the Swiss village that may have attracted Blocker to the place.

Like James Arness of Gunsmoke, Blocker never enjoyed the attention that came with fame. He was determined not to get lost in the Hollywood crowd, so, he moved away from it all. 

"Bonanza appears on Swiss TV, but only in German," Blocker said. "There aren't any German-speaking people in Southern Switzerland, and I admit that it had something to do with me settling in Lugano."

It was a long way from the Ponderosa Ranch, but Blocker loved his little life in Switzerland.

"I feel a little guilty when I see so many actors out of work," Blocker said. "I've had it too easy."

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8 Comments

zorob150 1 month ago
I think he also wanted his kids to have a normal life. Not growing up to be spoiled Beverly hills brats like Landon's kids were.
McGillahooala 4 months ago
All around great guy. It’s a shame more in Hollywood aren’t like him.
jmworacle 4 months ago
Dan Blocker was an quiet well educated person. It's the total opposite of his "lovable lunk" character. When his son wanted to hunt his father said he could as soon as the animals could shoot back. Checque out an episode of "Have Gun Will Travel" where Mr. Blocker plays a character one hundred eighty degrees from Hoss.
WGH jmworacle 4 months ago
It's much better for a deer to die of starvation over the winter than to be shot humanely and eaten for food.

It's also much more humane for the deer to be struck by a car, potentially injuring the occupants also, than to be shot humanely with a rifle.

Deer also destroy Farmers crops, raising the cost of food for everyone.

And the blocker family could have donated the meat to a homeless shelter.

Blocker wasn't that smart
zorob150 WGH 1 month ago
You should really do your research before you post anything this stupid. In real life Blocker was brilliant. He had a degree in education and wants the series ended he wanted to go back and get his PhD. He was also a very intelligent businessman who gave investment advice to green and Landon as far as how to invest their Bonanza earnings and not have to be taxed to death. One side note all three of them invested in a piece of land beachfront property in Malibu California called The Dan Blocker Beach. It was donated to the city with the stipulations that the land would stay untouched meaning there would be no parking lots shopping centers housing developments or apartment complexes on the beach. It was lease to Malibu for 99 years and at the end of that time the property will revert back to the estate so the three Bonanza actors. At the at the time it was done as a tax write off a very lucrative one but also the appreciation of that land is going to be astronomical in the next 75 years if it's not already so to say dan blocker was not an intelligent man it's just a stupid thing to say. In fairness and all honesty all three of them were quite intelligent in real life.
Runeshaper 4 months ago
I'm glad that Blocker did what made him happy. Sounds like the kids enjoyed the move as well!
cperrynaples Runeshaper 4 months ago
Fun Fact: His son was on Brooklyn 99 as a cop!
Runeshaper cperrynaples 4 months ago
That's so cool!
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