Dan Blocker's life before 'Bonanza' is proof the actor was made to play Hoss Cartwright

Dan Blocker lived a short life, but his early success and experiences embodied Hoss.

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Bonanza's western reign is something we'll never see again in television history. The success of the show was due to many factors, but characters like Eric "Hoss" Cartwright, brought to life by Dan Blocker, are the main reason.

Although the show was set in the mid 1800s, nearly a hundred years before the actor was born, Blocker was able to become one with Hoss. The role resonated with many of his characteristics and early life experiences.

In the role, he was known as the "loveable gentle giant" and the second son of Ben Cartwright, who was seen as unapproachable at first glance. Those first glances were often wrong, though.

Blocker would play Hoss for 13 seasons before his unexpected death in 1972 at just 43 years old.

However, the actor's short life has seen plenty of success.

He was born in Dekalb, Texas, in 1928. At 22, he enrolled in Hardin-Simms University, where he got his first taste of acting. Blocker received a degree in Speech and Drama, but the success was just starting.

Not only was he book-smart, but he also played football at a school affiliated with Hardin-Simms before transferring to Sul Ross State Teacher's College to finish his Master's Degree in Dramatic Arts. In true Blocker style, he worked as a rodeo performer and bouncer as a student.

He was 300 pounds which made visitors a little intimidated by his size, but they quickly realized he was good-hearted. Some may say this was an early start to preparing for his significant future role.

Blocker got drafted into the U.S Army during the Korean War, where he started basic training in Louisiana before serving as an infantry sergeant in Korea from December 1951 to August 1952.

With his strength, talents, and education, Blocker was ready for any profession, including being a teacher.

His instructor journey started with a position as a sixth-grade and high school English and Drama teacher in Sonora, Texas, until 1954. He then began teaching in California while also taking on acting roles.

Before his big Bonanza break, the actor was seen on television screens in top-rated shows. He appeared on the episode "Outer Space Jitters" on The Three Stooges, where he played a goon, and multiple episodes of NBC's The Restless Gun as a blacksmith, Gunsmoke, Colt 45, and more before snagging his iconic role.

The role of Eric "Hoss" Cartwright fit right into Blocker's hands.

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10 Comments

WayneKeith 13 months ago
His fistfight with Lucas McCain was legendary. Probably the only fight he ever lost.
KevinButler 14 months ago
Actually? Dan played a zombie..conceived by the evil aliens of "Sunev"(That's Venus spelled backwards)in "The Three Stooges"film"Outer Space Jitters"..he also recorded a kids storytelling LP"Tales For Young Un's".
UTZAAKE 14 months ago
Hardin–Simmons University, not Hardin–Simms.
Andybandit 14 months ago
Dirk Blocker looks like his Dad, Dan Blocker.
Andybandit 14 months ago
Dan Blocker was a good actor. So is his Son Dirk. He is in a from different shows from the 70s-Today. Dirk I mean
cperrynaples Andybandit 13 months ago
Yep, Dirk was most recently on Brooklyn Nine-Nine!
Pacificsun 14 months ago
Isn't it nice to see an actor's essence of character channeled through his character. While some would say it's only about "acting" (obviously) people do have an opportunity to choose 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒄𝒉 roles they're either more comfortable with. On in which they see more opportunity. Maybe Mr. Blocker was sending a subtle message that kindness goes a long way, despite first impressions! 🎃

Great story and thank you MeTV Staff!!
ELEANOR Pacificsun 14 months ago
Many actors end up choosing the roles that they are most comfortable in BECAUSE they can just be themselves and not change too much.
Runeshaper 14 months ago
Great story. He passed away way too young.
Barry22 14 months ago
"Hundreds of years before he was born?" More like 80.
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