Bobby Dan Davis Blocker (December 10, 1928 – May 13, 1972) was an
American television actor and
Korean War veteran. He is best
remembered for his role as Hoss Cartwright in the
television series Bonanza.
1.1 Early life
1.2 U.S. Army
1.3 Acting career
1.4 Personal life
2 Partial filmography
5 External links
Blocker was born Bobby Dan Davis Blocker in De Kalb, Bowie County,
Texas, son of Ora "Shack" Blocker (1895–1960) and his wife Mary
Arizona Blocker, née Davis (1901–1998). The family moved to
O'Donnell, south of Lubbock in West Texas, where they operated a
The former Blocker Store is now an abandoned building in downtown
As a boy, he attended
Texas Military Institute
Texas Military Institute and in 1946 played
football at Southern Baptist-affiliated
Hardin–Simmons University in
Abilene, Texas. In 1947, he transferred to Sul Ross State Teacher's
College in Alpine, Texas, where he was a star football player and
graduated in 1950. After two years of military service, he went on to
earn a master's degree in the dramatic arts.
He worked as a rodeo performer and as a bouncer in a bar while a
student. He is remembered from his school days for his size of
6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) and weight of 300 pounds (140
kilograms), and for being good-natured despite his intimidating size.
Blocker was a high school English and drama teacher in Sonora, Texas,
from 1953 to 1958; a sixth-grade teacher and coach at Eddy
Elementary School in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and then a teacher in
Blocker was drafted into the
United States Army
United States Army during the Korean War.
He had basic training at Fort Polk,
Louisiana and served as an
infantry sergeant in F Company, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry
Infantry Division in Korea, from December 1951 to
August 1952. He received a
Purple Heart for wounds in combat.
In addition to the Purple Heart, Blocker received the National Defense
Korean Service Medal
Korean Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars,
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service
Korean War Service Medal, and Combat Infantryman
Vaughn Monroe, Susie Scott, and
Dan Blocker dance in
Dan Blocker in Bonanza
In 1957, Blocker appeared in a Three Stooges short, Outer Space
Jitters, having portrayed the part of The Goon, billed as "Don
Blocker". He made two appearances on the long-running
the first on August 25, 1956, in "Alarm at Pleasant Valley" and the
second on October 18, 1958, in "Thoroughbreds". He also appeared in
1957 as Will in the episode, "A Time to Die" of the ABC/Warner
Brothers Western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston.
In 1957, Blocker was cast in episodes of the David Dortort-produced
NBC series, The Restless Gun, as a blacksmith and as a cattleman
planning to take his hard-earned profit to return to his family land
in his native Minnesota. That same year, he had at least two roles as
a bartender in an episode of the syndicated Western-themed crime drama
Sheriff of Cochise, starring John Bromfield, and in the film, Gunsight
Ridge. Also in 1957, he appeared in the Cheyenne episode, "Land Beyond
the Law", playing one of the outlaw minions (Pete). He also appeared
in The Rifleman. In 1958, he played a prison guard and later had a
recurring role as Tiny Budinger in the
NBC Western series Cimarron
City, starring George Montgomery, John Smith and Audrey Totter. He
also was seen in "The Señorita Makes a Choice", a 1958 episode of
Walt Disney's Zorro series. He also appeared in episode "Underground
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon as "Mule Conklin".
In 1958, Blocker had a supporting role as
Sergeant Broderick in "The
Dora Gray Story" on NBC's Wagon Train, with
Linda Darnell in the title
Mike Connors as Miles Borden, a corrupt United States Army
lieutenant at an isolated Western fort. That same year, he appeared
in "Stagecoach Episode" of the
NBC Western, Jefferson Drum, starring
In March of 1958, he also appeared as Joe, a thief, in Season 1 of
Have Gun Will Travel, in the episode "Gun Shy".
Blocker was cast as bearded poker-playing rodeo performer, Cloudy
Sims, in the 1958 episode "Rodeo" on the
David Janssen crime drama,
Richard Diamond, Private Detective. In the storyline, a rodeo
performer named Ed Murdock, portrayed by Lee Van Cleef, is murdered
before he can make his final performance at the annual event in
Madison Square Garden.
In 1959, as
Bonanza began its long network run, Blocker guest-starred
in an episode of the
Keenan Wynn and
NBC series, The
Troubleshooters, an adventure program about unusual events surrounding
an international construction company. Another 1959 role was as Del
Pierce in "Johnny Yuma", the first episode of the ABC Western series,
The Rebel, starring Nick Adams.
Jack Benny and Blocker
Blocker's big break also came in 1959, when he was cast as Eric "Hoss"
Cartwright on the long-running
NBC television series
played the role in 415 episodes until his death. Blocker said he
portrayed the gentle-natured Hoss character with a Stephen Grellet
excerpt in mind: "We shall pass this way on Earth but once, if there
is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now,
for we will never pass this way again."
In 1963, Blocker starred with
Frank Sinatra in the comedy Come Blow
Your Horn. He worked with Sinatra again in 1968 in the Tony Rome film
sequel Lady in Cement, playing a menacing tough guy. Stanley Kubrick
attempted to cast Blocker in his film Dr. Strangelove, after Peter
Sellers elected not to add the role of Major T.J. "King" Kong to his
multiple other roles, but according to the film's co-writer, Terry
Southern, Blocker's agent rejected the script. The role went to Slim
Pickens, who played the iconic scene of riding an atomic bomb down
while waving his cowboy hat. In 1968, Blocker starred as John
Killibrew, a blacksmith, who had convinced a number of settlers to
follow him to California and founded the town of Arkana. This TV film,
Something for a Lonely Man, also featured Susan Clark, John Dehner,
Warren Oates and Don Stroud. In 1970, Blocker portrayed a love-shy
galoot in Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County, with
Nanette Fabray as a
love prospect and a supporting cast featuring Jim Backus, Jack Elam,
Noah Beery, Jr., and Mickey Rooney. Blocker also appeared on NBC's The
Flip Wilson Show comedy hour.
Robert Altman befriended Blocker while directing episodes of
Bonanza. Years later, he cast Blocker as Roger Wade in The Long
Goodbye, but Blocker died before filming began. The role then went to
Sterling Hayden, and the film was dedicated to Blocker.
Also in 1963, Blocker started and received partial ownership in a
successful chain of
Bonanza Steakhouse restaurants (Ponderosa
Steakhouses started in 1965), in exchange for serving (in character
as Hoss) as their commercial spokesman and making personal appearances
Blocker with his four children, circa 1960s
Hoss Cartwright and
Dan Blocker plaque in O'Donnell, Texas, 1973
Blocker is listed on the
West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock.
Blocker was a Free Methodist. He married Dolphia Parker, whom he
had met while a student at Sul Ross State University. All of their
four children's names begin with a 'D': Hollywood actor Dirk Blocker,
Hollywood producer David Blocker, and twin daughters Debra Lee
(artist) and Danna Lynn.
David Blocker won a 1998 Emmy for producing
"Don King: Only in America."
Blocker was among Hollywood celebrities who supported Pat Brown's
re-election in 1966 as governor of California against Ronald W.
Reagan. In 1968, Blocker backed then-
U.S. Senator Eugene J. McCarthy
Minnesota for the Democratic presidential nomination. Blocker
later supported the eventual Democratic Party nominee, Vice President
Hubert H. Humphrey, also of Minnesota, for the presidency against the
Republican Richard M. Nixon.
Blocker kept a house in
Inglewood, California and a 6,000-square-foot
(560 m2) Tudor-style mansion in the Hancock Park, Los Angeles
area of Los Angeles.
On the 2010
PBS special, "Pioneers of Television: Westerns", actor
Mitch Vogel, who played the young brother Jamie Cartwright, on
Bonanza, said Blocker, "was so easy to get to know—the kind of guy
you could go and have a beer with."
Blocker, a performance automobile fan, once owned a 1965 Chevrolet
Chevelle SS396 "Z-16" (RPO Z16 option), as
Chevrolet was the
commercial sponsor of the show. He also owned a 1965 Huffaker Genie
MK10 race car, nicknamed the "Vinegaroon". The car was run by Nickey
Chevrolet in the 1965 and 1966 U.S. Road Racing Championship series,
as well as the 1966 Can-Am championship.
On May 13, 1972, Blocker died in Los Angeles, at age 43, of a
pulmonary embolism following gall bladder surgery. The writers of
Bonanza took the unusual step of referencing a major character's death
in the show's storyline that autumn.
Bonanza lasted another season
without Hoss, and the 14th and final season ended on January 16, 1973.
Blocker's remains are interred in a family plot in Woodmen Cemetery,
in De Kalb, Texas. The common grave site is marked by a plain stone
with the name "B. Dan D. Blocker" engraved; three family members are
buried beside him, his father, mother, and sister.
Gunsight Ridge (1957) –
Outer Space Jitters
Outer Space Jitters (1957) - The Goon (uncredited)
Black Patch (1957) –
The Girl in Black Stockings
The Girl in Black Stockings (1957) – Mike, the Bartender
The Young Captives
The Young Captives (1959) – Oil Field Roughneck
The Errand Boy
The Errand Boy (1961) – Hoss Cartwright – Cameo (uncredited)
Come Blow Your Horn (1963) – Mr. Eckman
Lady in Cement
Lady in Cement (1968) – Waldo Gronsky
Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County (1970) – Charley
Bonanza (1959–1972, TV) – Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright / Big Jack Slade
(final television appearance)
Restless Gun; The Child (1957) - El Burro (credited/recurring role)
The following are named after Blocker:
Dan Blocker Room" is on the second floor of the O'Donnell Heritage
Museum in O'Donnell, Texas, where he was brought up.
Dan Blocker Beach", in Malibu, California
Dan Blocker Avenue" is a street in the Boulder Ranch development in
^ a b c d e Nostalgia And Now
^ Troesser, John. "Texan Dan Blocker". Texas Escapes. Retrieved
February 16, 2014.
^ Gibson, Kelly (June–July 2013). "
Korean War Vets Made Their Names
On Screen". VFW Magazine. OCLC 60622714.
^ "Colt .45 (1957-1960)". The Classic TV Archive. Retrieved December
^ The Dora Gray Story on IMDb
Richard Diamond, Private Detective
Richard Diamond, Private Detective
Rodeo on IMDb
^ a b c "Dan Blocker". findagrave.com. Retrieved August 21,
^ a b
Bonanza (Media notes). Bear Family Records. 2007.
^ 1. TV Guide, December 6–12, 1969, pp A-63 – A-64
^ Finley, Gus (20 May 1972). "
Dan Blocker Obituary". Austin
^ Vaughan, Daniel (February 2008). "1964 Genie MK10". Conceptcarz.
Retrieved August 21, 2016.
^ "Blood clot in lung Kills Dan Blocker". Lodi News-Sentinel. May 16,
1972. Retrieved November 21, 2017 – via Google News Archive
^ TheMalibuTimes, November 19, 2014
Dan Blocker Beach sign
TV Guide, December 6–12, 1969, pp. A-63 – A-64
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dan Blocker.
Dan Blocker on IMDb
Biography by Bruce Eder, Allmovie
Dan Blocker at AllMusic
Dan Blocker Memorial
"Cactus Pryor Interviews Dan Blocker": KTBC interview from 1965
Dan Blocker at Find a Grave
Los Angeles portal
United States Army
United States Army portal
ISNI: 0000 0000 5519 0527
BNF: cb14156720x (da