During his lifetime Dan Blocker was known as an American television actor and Korean War veteran. As an actor, he was known for his portrayal of the character Hoss Cartwright in NBC’s western television series Bonanza, one of the longest-running western series in the history of U.S. television.
Dan Blocker gave a brilliant performance of the character of Hoss Cartwright in 13 of the series’ 14 seasons, and his involvement in the series was ended by his tragic death in 1972. In fact, Blocker was the life of Bonanza, as the series only lasted one more season after his death.
Bio of Dan Blocker
Dan Blocker was born as Bobby Dan Davis Blocker on December 10, 1928, in De Kalb, Texas, USA. His family later moved to the West Texas town of O’Donnell, where he grew up. His father was Ora “Shack” Blocker and his mother was Mary Arizona Blocker (nee Davis). Together they ran a grocery store in downtown O’Donnell.
Dan Blocker studied at the Texas Military Institute. He was a talented soccer player, so he played college soccer at Hardin-Simmons University, a private Baptist University in Abilene, Texas. After a year, he transferred to Sul Ross State Teacher’s College in Alpine, Texas, where he continued to shine as a football star. He did have a chance to pursue a professional football career, but his passion was more in acting.
Dan Blocker graduated from college in 1950 with a degree in speech and drama. He then served in the US Army during the Korean War between December 1951 and August 1952. He received a Purple Heart, among several other military awards.
Blocker immediately returned to college in 1953, where he earned a master’s degree in the dramatic arts. He stayed in Texas and later got a job as a school teacher. Later he moved first to New Mexico and then to California and continued his teaching career.
In the late 1950s, he starred in a variety of Western drama series, including Gunsmoke, ABC’s Colt.45, The Restless Gun, Sheriff of Cochise, The Rifleman, Cimarron City, Zorro, Jefferson Drum, and Wagon Train.
In 1958 he played the guest role in an episode of the detective drama series Richard Diamond, Private Detective. He also played a guest role in the NBC adventure series The Troubleshooters (1959) and in the ABC western series The Rebel (1959).
Dan Blocker’s breakthrough in his acting career also came in 1959 when he was cast as Eric “Hoss” Cartwright in NBC’s Bonanza western series. Blocker impersonated the character perfectly and it turned out to be the most remarkable role of his rather short acting career. With one exception, he appeared in all but 14 seasons of the series, which ended a few months after the actor’s death.
On the big screen, Dan Blocker played the leading role in the comedy Come Blow Your Horn (1963) alongside Frank Sinatra. He played the leading role of John Killibrew, a blacksmith in the NBC telefilm Something for a Lonely Man (1968). He also played in the western comedy Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County (1970).
Dan Blocker’s Wife
The talented actor was married to Dolphia Lee Parker. The duo met while studying at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. The marriage was entered into on August 25, 1952. They remained married until May 1972, when Blocker died in May 1972.
Blocker had 4 children during his lifetime. His first children, twin daughters Debra Lee and Danna Lynn, were born in 1953. His first son David Blocker was born in 1955, followed by his second son and last child Dennis Dirk Blocker, born in 1957.
Both sons of Dan Blocker have followed a similar career path as their late father. His first son David Blocker is an Emmy Award-winning Hollywood producer with numerous films to his credit.
The second son of Dan Blocker, Dirk Blocker, is a Hollywood actor. He made his acting debut as a teenager in 1974 in an episode of the medical drama Marcus Welby, M.D. Dirk Blocker is known for his long engagement as pilot Jerry Bragg in the NBC military series Baa Baa Black Sheep (1976-1978). He is also known for his role as Michael Hitchcock in the Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-Present).
Cause of Death
At the age of 43, Dan Blocker’s life came to a tragic end on 13 May 1972 in Los Angeles, California. He died of a pulmonary embolism (a post-operative blood clot in the lung) after cholecystectomy, the surgical removal of the gallbladder.
Dan Blocker’s remains were buried on a family plot at Woodmen Cemetery in his hometown of De Kalb, Texas, which also contains the remains of his parents and sister.
The acting career of the celebrity was relatively short because of his premature death at the age of 43. But when the talented actor died he already had a whole string of acting successes to show. He also collected an enviable amount of wealth for himself. At the time of his death Blocker is said to have been worth 1 million dollars, which at today’s rates is about 25 million dollars.
Height and Weight
Dan Blocker could indeed have been described as a gentle giant. He weighed 14 pounds at birth, which was the highest birth weight in Bowie County at the time. By the age of 12, he was already 6 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds. As an adult, he weighed 145 kg or 320 lbs and reached a height of 193 cm (6 feet 4 inches).
Despite his intimidating stature, Blocker was loved by his peers for his likable personality. He was indeed a great man with a much larger heart. Thanks to his Hulk-like stature, he was used as a rodeo actor and also as a club jumper during his student days.