Dan ''Hoss'' Blocker: The Cartwrights became ''too conservative''

Blocker was unfiltered regarding Bonanza.

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It's rare when one finds himself both in the spotlight and able to criticize the spotlight. It doesn't happen a lot. Usually, fame burns so quickly that people can only comment on it after the fact. Or, it burns so brightly that people are blinded to the ways it clouds perception. The uncommon exception, though, is a combination of the right voice with the right courage to speak his truth at the right time. It takes someone truly unafraid to lose his position. In 1964, Dan Blocker, Hoss from TV's Bonanza cared enough to be critical but not enough to bite his tongue.

It may have been a little bit easier for Blocker to stand his ground and speak his mind. The guy was gigantic. He was famous for being on Bonanza, yes, but even within the world of Bonanza, he was so physically captivating. So, you're drawn in by the performer's size, and then, while he has you paying attention, Blocker proved to be one of the most magnetic performers in any TV Western. He could do a lot on the show, deftly balancing drama with humor and tension with relief.

By the time of his 1964 interview with The Daily Mail, Dan Blocker had been on TV as Hoss for five years. Whether it was his tenure or his size that provided him the security to be outspoken, Blocker had this to say about the show:

"I think the Cartwright family is becoming too smug by half. They're gettin' too damn conservative for my line of thinkin', and that bugs the hell out of me. Here you get some poor character who steals a chicken to feed his starving kids, and sure as hell the Cartwrights'll run him off the ranch. No, sir, I do not like the premise — but I'll go along with the show."

While that quote seems like Blocker was presenting an edgier sign to himself, the attitude was nothing new. He'd always been big enough to back up his opinions.

"My main juvenile pastime was fightin'," said Blocker, "They called me 'The Bigun,' ropin' off the streets of O'Donnell, Texas, where I lived, matching me up against the local toughs." 

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21 Comments

Daveman13 7 months ago
Not surprised about Blocker. Just another reason why Gunsmoke was 10 times better and why Bonanza often struggled in the ratings. The episodes often bordered on the absurd. When agendas and activism entered into TV it was the beginning of the end.
zorob150 Daveman13 1 month ago
Struggled in the ratings? In their second season they were number 17 in the dealson ratings. In season 3 they were number two. Bonanza was the first television series to spend 10 consecutive years in the top 10 nine of those years it was top five. By season 13 they slipped to 20th. By season 14 NBC was trying to kill the series because it just didn't appeal to the demographic they were seeking so they moved it from their Sunday night time slot at 9:00 p.m. where was there for 11 years to Tuesday night at 8:00 against two of the biggest hits of the seventies Maude and Hawaii Five-O. Both those series were in the top five during the 1972 1973 season. Gunsmoke was slated to be canceled at the end of their 12th season. A last-minute reprieved from the head of CBS bill payley who told programming at the network to renew the series for another year because it was the favorite show of he and his wife. They moved it from a Saturday night slot to Monday night I'm not sure what time work shot back up in the top 10 and it was fortunate to have The Lucy show as it was lead in which led to the killing of NBC's Monday night lineup. Gunsmoke stayed in the top 10 for another 6 years and was number 15 in its 19th year.
zorob150 zorob150 1 month ago
I'm sorry I meant to say Nielsen ratings.
zorob150 zorob150 1 month ago
Behind the scenes Pernell Roberts was called the liberal Cartwright. He was one of the people at the march on Selma and blocker was a liberal Democrat who supported Hubert Humphrey and Martin Luther King. Landon and Greene were the hardcore Republicans.
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Snickers 10 months ago
Never could get into Bonanza, I was more a Wanted dead or Alive and Have Gun will Travel fan.
Cougar90 10 months ago
Dan said once he wanted to wait until Bonanza had been of the network for ten years, then run for governor of Texas. I also know he supported Senator Eugene McCarthy in 1968.
Rick 10 months ago
I get what he means about smug. Palladin could be smug, too, delivering a righteous polemic in the penultimate scene. They're the mirror of the Alan-Alda preachy late M*A*SH seasons.
Bapa1 10 months ago
So Hoss became 'woke'?
EvyR76 Bapa1 10 months ago
How could he become something that wasn't even a thing back in his day?
Daveman13 Bapa1 7 months ago
He was a true product of Hollywood. Hollywood was always "out there".
LoveMETV22 10 months ago
" No, sir, I do not like the premise — but I'll go along with the show."
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Dan Blocker was not unlike any other actor on any other series. Yes he wasn't keen on some of the shows premises at the time, however that was/is Hollywood. The show went on.
Andybandit 10 months ago
That is too bad what DB, said about the Cartwrights. I hope they weren't to conservative. They seemed excepting of people on Bonanza.
tmac1951 Andybandit 10 months ago
My point is for someone who didn’t like the show, he stayed there long enough. I’m guessing he wasn’t too keen on the rifleman, Lucas must of killed 1000 men in the course of 5 years.
dakotah37 tmac1951 10 months ago
That Rifleman episode is on today on MeTV
tmac1951 10 months ago
He said that in 1964, and was on how many more years??.
cperrynaples tmac1951 10 months ago
8! He died before the last season!
grimeyboy463 tmac1951 10 months ago
9 more? 14 seasons total
Robertp 10 months ago
Bonanza seemed silly to me. I really preferred Gunsmoke but it had a few silly episodes too. Bonanza was just wimpy.
ajmcclung Robertp 10 months ago
I grew up with Bonanza, but to me they were too clean and it was too staged. The High Chaparral was a lot closer to reality. And I disagree with Blocker's comment, I don't think the Cartwrights would have just "run somebody off". But I obviously can't argue with him...
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