Dan Blocker

Dan Blocker

  • Highest Rated: 86% Come Blow Your Horn (1963)
  • Lowest Rated: 50% Lady in Cement (1968)
  • Birthday: Dec 10, 1928
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • Big, burly Dan Blocker only did a handful of movies in his 17-year acting career, but he became one of the most beloved and popular television stars of the 1960s for his portrayal of Hoss Cartwright on the Western series Bonanza. Weighing 14 pounds at birth, Blocker was the largest baby ever born in Bowie County, TX. At 18, he stood 6'3" and weighed close to 300 pounds, and was legendary for his physical prowess. Blocker attended the Texas Military Institute and studied for his B.A. at Sul Ross State College, where he initially majored in athletics. His build accidentally led him to the drama department for a production of Arsenic and Old Lace -- a stage hand was needed who was big and strong enough to quickly remove the dummies representing corpses on the set, between acts. While working on the production, Blocker was bitten by the acting bug and switched his major to drama. He pursued his theatrical aspirations in earnest after graduation, working in one season of summer stock before he was drafted. Blocker served in combat during the Korean War, after which he earned a master's degree, married, moved to Los Angeles, and settled down to raise a family, earning his living as a high school teacher. It was his successful audition for the small role of a cavalry lieutenant on Gunsmoke during the 1956 season, in the episode "Alarm at Pleasant Valley," that rekindled Blocker's interest in an acting career. Over the next three years, he took any work that he could get, on programs like Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, Cheyenne, Tales of Wells Fargo, Zane Grey Theater, Wagon Train, Colt .45, Zorro, Maverick, and Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Blocker also got some movie work, portraying a bartender in the offbeat murder mystery The Girl in Black Stockings and an android in Outer Space Jitters, a very late Three Stooges short. His career took an upturn when he got a guest-starring role in an episode of the series The Restless Gun, starring John Payne, in 1958; his work was good enough to catch the attention of the producer, David Dortort. A year later, Dortort was putting together a new, hour-long Western series called Bonanza and cast Blocker in the role of "Hoss" Cartwright, the big-boned, good-natured middle son in a ranching family near Virginia City, NV, set in the mid- to late 19th century (the time frame of Bonanza was always vague, with stories shifting between the early 1860s to the 1870s and 1880s). Blocker's character's real name, incidentally, was Eric, but Hoss -- a nickname from his mother's Norwegian language that meant "friend" -- was what he was known as to everyone on the series and all viewers. Despite the weaknesses in the scripts during the early seasons, the role was a dream part for the actor, who got a chance to display his gentle, sensitive side as well as his gift for comedy, and also work in a serious dramatic context as well on many occasions, and show off his brute strength as well. It is arguable that Blocker was the most popular member of the cast during the 1960s; he was especially beloved of younger viewers, in part because his character was always very sympathetic to children. In contrast to the other stars of the series, Blocker's big-screen career wasn't halted by his work on Bonanza. He appeared in The Errand Boy, playing himself in an uncredited cameo, and played a role in the Frank Sinatra movie Come Blow Your Horn. Blocker got his first major movie part five years later in the Sinatra film Lady in Cement (1968), playing Waldo Gronsky, a burly, potentially murderous thug who hires private detective Tony Rome (played by Sinatra) to find his missing girlfriend. By the end of the 1960s, Blocker was taken seriously enough as an actor to star in two features, Something for a Lonely Man, a beautiful and poignant Western/comedy-drama, and the broader comedy The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County. Some of Blocker's television appearances separate from Bonanza also reflected his personal side -- his politi

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Rating

Title

Credit

Box
Office

Year

No Score Yet Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County Charley 1970
No Score Yet Something for a Lonely Man John Killibrew 1968
50% Lady in Cement Waldo Gronsky 1968
No Score Yet Ride the Wind Actor 1966
86% Come Blow Your Horn Mr. Eckman 1963
50% The Errand Boy Guest Star 1961
No Score Yet Gunsight Ridge Bartender 1958
No Score Yet The Girl in Black Stockings Bartender 1957
No Score Yet Black Patch Actor 1957

TV

Rating

Title

Credit

Year

No Score Yet Bonanza
1959-1973
Hoss Hoss Cartwright
  • 2018
  • 1973
  • 1972
  • 1971
  • 1970
  • 1969
  • 1968
  • 1967
  • 1966
  • 1965
  • 1964
  • 1963
  • 1962
  • 1961
  • 1960
  • 1959
No Score Yet The Flip Wilson Show
1970-1974
Guest
  • 1972
No Score Yet Sesame Street
1969
Voice
  • 1971
  • 1970
No Score Yet Gunsmoke
1955-1975
  • 1958
No Score Yet Maverick
1957-1962
Hognose Higgins
  • 1958
  • 1957
No Score Yet The Three Stooges
1934-1959
  • 1957

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