• Bonanza was a famous western series
  • Dan Blocker had a starring role on the show
  • Learn more about the actor's life and career

We all know and loved him on Bonanza as "Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright", the iconic Dan Blocker! We take a look back at his life and his acting career that, unfortunately, ended way too soon in 1972 when he passed away at the age of just 43.

Bonanza: "Hoss" was the role of Dan Blocker's career

But before he started acting and appeared in Bonanza as "Hoss", Bobby Dan Davis Blocker grew up in West Texas and attended the Texas Military Institute in San Antonio as a boy. He moved on to study and play football at Hardin-Simmons University as well as Sul Ross State Teacher's College in Alpine, Texas. 

Before he could graduate with a Master's in dramatic arts though, Blocker was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the Korean War from December 1951 until August 1952. He was wounded in combat and received a Purple Heart as well as the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars.

Dan Blocker: Veteran, teacher and actor

Blocker returned and in 1953 started working as a high school English and Drama teacher in Texas and New Mexico until he eventually ended up teaching in California. In 1957, he was cast as "The Goon" in the short film Outer Space Jitters, marking his first credited acting role, and he then got a recurring role in the NBC Western series The Restless Gun.

After some more guest spots on iconic shows like The Rifleman (with Johnny Crawford) and Have Gun - Will Travel, Blocker eventually got his big break and the role of his life when he cast as "Eric Cartwright" on NBC's Bonanza in 1959. He played the role until his eventual death and starred as "Hoss" in 415(!) episodes alongside Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts and Michael Landon.

IMDb describes his character as "the heart and soul of Bonanza", and he truly made himself immortal with his role in one of the most popular TV series of all time. During the 13-year-run of Bonanza, "Hoss" also starred in a couple of features like the 1968 comedy Come Blow Your Horn with Frank Sinatra.

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Bonanza's "Hoss" died in 1972

Dan Blocker had to have gallbladder surgery in 1972 and died from a pulmonary embolism afterward - he was only 43 years old. He was survived by his wife Dolphia Parker, whom had married in 1952, and his four children. Dan Blocker's son Dirk Blocker is actually also an actor and stars on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The late Dan Blocker will always be remembered as "Hoss" on Bonanza!