Dan Blocker

Dan Blocker
Dan Blocker

Blocker as Hoss Cartwright on Bonanza
Born Bobby Dan Blocker
December 10, 1928(1928-12-10)
DeKalb, Texas, U.S.
Died May 13, 1972(1972-05-13) (aged 43)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other names Bobby Dan Davis Blocker
Dan Blocker
Occupation Actor
Years active 1953–1972 (his death)
Spouse Dolphia Parker

Dan Blocker (December 10, 1928 – May 13, 1972) was an American actor best remembered for his role as Eric "Hoss" Cartwright in the NBC western television series Bonanza.

Contents

Early life

Blocker was born Bobby Dan Blocker[1] in De Kalb, Texas, son of Ora Shack Blocker (1900–1960) and his wife Mary (David) Blocker (1901–1998). Soon after Dan's birth, the family moved to O'Donnell, south of Lubbock in West Texas, where they operated a store.

The former Blocker Store is now an abandoned building in downtown O'Donnell, Texas.

He attended Texas Military Institute and in 1946 played football at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. He graduated from Sul Ross State Teacher's College in Alpine, where he earned a master's degree in the dramatic arts. (Although the "Hoss" character on Bonanza was conceived as lovable but slow-witted, Blocker was the only cast member with a graduate degree.)

Blocker was a high school English and drama teacher in Sonora, Texas, a sixth grade teacher and coach at Eddy Elementary School in Carlsbad, New Mexico and a finally a teacher in California. He had worked as a rodeo performer and as a bouncer in a beer bar while a student. He is remembered from his school days for his size of 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and weight of 300 pounds (136 kilograms; 21 stone 6 pounds), and for being good-natured despite his intimidating size.

Career

In 1957, Blocker appeared in a Three Stooges short, Outer Space Jitters, having portrayed the part of "The Goon," billed as "Don Blocker". That year he appeared in episodes of the David Dortort-produced TV 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. Also in 1957, Blocker had a role as a bartender in an episode of the syndicated western-themed crime drama Sheriff of Cochise, starring John Bromfield. He also had a role as a bartender in the 1957 film Gunsight Ridge. In 1958, he played a prison guard and later had a recurring role as Tiny Budinger in the NBC western series Cimarron City (TV series). He also was seen in a 1958 episode of Walt Disney's Zorro, "The Señorita Makes a Choice".

In 1959, as Bonanza was beginning, Blocker guest-starred in an episode of the Keenan Wynn and Bob Mathias NBC series The Troubleshooters, an adventure program about unusual events surrounding an international construction company.

Blocker played the outgoing "middle son" Hoss on the long-running NBC television series, Bonanza. The actor who played his elder brother Adam, Pernell Roberts, was born a scant seven months before Blocker. Dan Blocker said that he portrayed the 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." [2]

In 1968, Blocker starred with Frank Sinatra in the "Tony Rome" film sequel Lady In Cement.

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 subsequently went to Slim Pickens. In 1970, the actor portrayed a love-shy galoot on, The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County, with Nanette Fabray as a love prospect. Mickey Rooney also starred.

Director Robert Altman befriended Blocker while directing episodes of Bonanza. Years later, he cast Blocker as Roger Wade in The Long Goodbye. Blocker died before filming commenced. The role went to Sterling Hayden and the film was dedicated to Blocker.

Blocker received partial ownership in a successful chain of Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouse restaurants in exchange for serving (in character as Hoss) as their commercial spokesman and making personal appearances at franchises.

Personal life

Hoss Cartwright and Dan Blocker plaque (1973) in O'Donnell, Texas
Blocker is listed on the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock

Blocker was drafted into the Army and served in the Korean War as a First Sergeant. He later married Dolphia Parker, whom he had met while a student at Sul Ross State. All of their four children's names begin with a 'D': actor Dirk Blocker, producer David Blocker and twin daughters Debra Lee (artist) and Danna Lynn.

A Free Methodist, Blocker was among Hollywood celebrities who supported Pat Brown's re-election as Governor of California (opposing Ronald W. Reagan's candidacy) in 1966, and then U.S. Senator Eugene J. McCarthy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968 [3]. Blocker later supported the eventual Democratic Party nominee, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey from Minnesota, for the presidency against the Republican Richard M. Nixon. Blocker so opposed the Vietnam War that he uprooted his family in 1968 and moved them to Lugano, Switzerland [4]. ("Bonanza", Bear Family Records liner notes; "Bonanza: Scenery of the Ponderosa: Episode Guide- Season 14"). He kept a house in Inglewood, California and commuted to NBC. His 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) Tudor style mansion in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles is currently owned by Rob Zombie.

On the 2010 PBS special, "Pioneers of Television: Westerns", actor Mitch Vogel who played Bonanza TV brother Jamie Cartwright stated, "he {Dan Blocker} was so easy to get to know - the kind of guy you could go and have a beer with."

Blocker once owned an authentic 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 (RPO Z16 option) as Chevrolet was the commercial sponsor of the show. His Chevelle, now in private hands, is sometimes displayed in car shows. He was also the owner of 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.[3]

Death

On May 13, 1972, in Los Angeles, Blocker died following gall bladder surgery, of a pulmonary embolism. The writers of Bonanza took the then-unusual step of referencing a major character's death in the show's storyline that autumn. Bonanza lasted another abbreviated season without Hoss, as the final and fourteenth year ended nine episodes shy of a full season- on January 16, 1973. Blocker's remains are buried in a family plot in DeKalb, although he lived there only briefly. The common grave site is marked by a plain stone with the name "BLOCKER" engraved, and three family members are buried beside him.

There is a "Dan Blocker Room" on the second floor of the O'Donnell Heritage Museum in O'Donnell, Texas, where he was reared.

In popular culture

A photo of Blocker as Hoss appears on the cover of Lagwagon's 1995 release Hoss, also named for the character.

References

  1. ^ According to the State of Texas. Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997. Searchable at http://www.familytreelegends.com/records/txbirths
  2. ^ Bonanza, Bear Family CD Collection liner notes
  3. ^ 1964 Genie Mk10 - Conceptcarz

1. ^ According to the State of Texas. Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997. Searchable at http://www.familytreelegends.com/records/txbirths

2. ^ Bonanza, Bear Family CD Collection liner notes

3. ^ Bonanza, Bear Family CD Collection liner notes

4. ^ Bonanza, Bear Family CD Collection liner notes

5. ^ 1964 Genie Mk10 - Conceptcarz

External links


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