Who was Dan Blocker?
The late American actor and Korean War veteran Bobby Dan Davis Blocker, was born in De Kalb, Texas USA, on 10 December 1928, meaning that Sagittarius was his zodiac sign. He appeared in 43 TV series and movies, and is probably still remembered best for playing the lead character Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright in the critically acclaimed western series “Bonanza”, created by Fred Hamilton and David Dortort, and which also starred Michael Landon and Lorne Greene. The series follows the lives of ranchers Ben Cartwright and his sons, it aired from 1959 through 1973, and won nine of its 25 award nominations.
People fell in love with Dan’s character, and then began recognizing him as Hoss Cartwright rather than by his real name.
Education and early life
Dan and his sister Ora Virginia Blocker were raised in De Kalb by their mother Mary Arizona (nee Davis) and father Ora ‘Shack’ Blocker; Dan rarely spoke about his family in public, because he respected their privacy.
He wasn’t interested in acting while growing up, but was rather into playing football. Dan studied at Texas Military Institute, and upon matriculating in 1946 enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University on a football scholarship. Dan transferred to Sul Ross State Teacher’s College a year later, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1950; he earned his Master’s degree in dramatic arts following his honorable discharge from the US Army.
Dan financially supported himself by working as a bouncer and a rodeo performer while attending college.
He was drafted into the US Army upon graduation, completed his training at Folk Polk, and served as an infantry sergeant during the Korean War from December 1951 through August 1952; Dan was wounded in combat, and thus received a Purple Heart medal, and seven other medals, including the Combat Infantryman Badge, Korean War Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.
Upon his return from Korea, Dan taught English language at a high school in 1953 and 1954, then taught drama at Eddy Elementary School; he and his wife moved to Los Angeles, California after Dan had won his first acting roles.
On 10 December 1928, Dan Blocker was born in DeKalb, Texas. When he was six years old the family moved to O'Donnell, in…
Posted by Museum of the Big Bend on Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Roles in movies
Dan made his debut film appearance in the 1955 short crime comedy “Hook a Crook”, while some of his following roles were in the crime drama “The Girl in Black Stockings”, the western “Black Patch”, and the action crime adventure “Gunsight Ridge”, all released in 1957.
In 1959, he portrayed Oil Field Roughneck in the crime drama “The Young Captives”, directed by Irvin Kershner, and which starred Steven Marlo, Luana Patten and Tom Selden; it follows a psychopathic killer who’s holding a newlywed couple captive. In 1961, Dan made a cameo appearance as Hoss Cartwright in the family comedy “The Errand Boy”, and the year 1963 saw him portray Mr. Eckman in the musical comedy “Come Blow Your Horn”.
In 1968, he played Waldo Gronsky in the crime drama “Lady in Cement”, directed by Gordon Douglas, and which starred Frank Sinatra, Raquel Welch and Richard Conte; it follows detective Tony Rome who’s found a woman’s body while diving in the ocean.
Dan’s final three film roles were in the 1968 western “Something for a Lonely Man”, the 1970 western comedy “The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County”, and the historical family comedy “Swing Out, Sweet Land” in the same year.
Roles in TV series
Dan’s debut TV series role was playing Bartender in the 1957 episode “Grandfather Grandson” of the crime western “The Sheriff of Cochise”, and the remainder of the decade saw him appear in an episode of various series, including the action western “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon”, the western “Colt .45”, and the mystery comedy “The Thin Man”.
In 1958 and 1959, he portrayed Tiny Budinger in 15 episodes of the western “Cimarron City”, which starred George Montgomery, John Smith and Audrey Totter, and follows the lives of Sheriff Temple and city mayor Matthew Rockford.
Aside from “Bonanza!”, Dan had only a single TV series role in the ‘60s, portraying Horace Hewitt in the 1964 episode “The Hottest Game in Town” of the comedy “Valentine’s Day”.
His final three TV series roles were in an episode of the comedy “Pat Paulsen’s Half a Comedy Hour”, an episode of the musical “The Tim Conway Comedy Hour” and the episode “The Dan Blocker Show” of the comedy “The Red Skelton Hour”, all in 1970.
Dan sang the song “Folsom Prison Blues” in a 1969 episode of the musical series “The Johnny Cash Show”, and the song “Ich bin der Hoss” in the 1971 episode “Bayernhalle in Munchen” of the game-show “Drei Mal Neun”.
He received special thanks (posthumously) for the 1973 crime comedy movie “The Long Goodbye”, which won two of its three award nominations.
Dan’s final talk-show appearances were in “V. I. P. – Schaukel”, “The Merv Griffin Show” and “Flip”.
Awards and nominations
Dan won a 1969 Bambi Award for TV Series International and a 1970 Western Heritage Bronze Wrangler Award for Fictional Television Drama, both for his performance in “Bonanza!”.
Love life and wife
Dan met non-celebrity American Dolphia Parker while they were both attending Sul Ross State University, and they married in 1952.
Dolphia gave birth to their twin daughters Debra Lee and Danna Lynn on 8 August 1954, and to their first son David Blocker on 4 May 1955; David’s today a movie producer. She gave birth to their second son Dennis Dirk Blocker on 31 July 1957, and he’s followed in his father’s footsteps and has become an actor, and is perhaps known best for portraying pilot Jerry Bragg in the war series “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, which aired from 1976 through 1978.
Dan didn’t speak about other women whom he’d dated, he was married to Dolphia Parker at the time of his death, and they had four children together.
Interesting facts and hobbies
The series “Bonanza” continued for one more season after Dan’s death, but was ‘by far the least popular season’.
He was a Free Methodist.
Dan was a liberal Democrat, and supported Pat Brown’s 1966 re-election campaign for governor of California.
He was a fan of performance cars, and was the owner of a 1965 Huffaker Genie MK10 and a 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle.
Dan’s mother, father and sister were buried next to him at Woodmen Cemetery in De Kalb, Texas.
Death, appearance and wealth
Dan was 43 when he died on 13 May 1972; he had suffered a pulmonary embolism which required gallbladder surgery, but a blood clot developed in his lung, causing his death. He had brown eyes and hair, was 6ft 4ins (1.93m) tall and weighed around 300lbs (140kgs).
Dan’s net worth, at the time of his death, was estimated at over $5 million.