I didn’t watch Bonanza as much as Gunsmoke as a kid but I knew this guy. He looked so big on the screen and he seemed like a nice and gentle guy. He played Hoss Cartwright and that was an appropriate name for him. Dan’s other claim to fame was that he was the largest baby ever born in Bowie County (14 lbs.), in the town of DeKalb Texas in 1928. While still in school Dan stood six-foot-three and weighed 300 pounds.
His parents, Ora “Shack” Blocker and Mary Arizona Blocker managed to open up a grocery store after the depression in O’Donnell Texas where a young Dan helped out, carrying groceries to customers’ cars. He football skills earned him a scholarship to Sul Ross State University where he played football and studied English.
He appeared in a play Arsenic and Old Lace and was hooked on acting. He fought in the Korean War, where he served with distinction, earning a Purple Heart, among several other medals, citations and awards.
He got bit parts in television and soon landed the Bonanza role which he would forever be known.
On May 13, 1972, Dan entered a Los Angeles hospital for simple gall bladder surgery. A blood clot in his lung changed everything. Dan Blocker died and left a wife and four children. He was on Bonanza for 13 seasons
Dan was part owner of the successful, once popular chain restaurant, Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouse… He also owned a race car.