Dan Blocker may have passed away 42 years ago, but his memory is still alive for viewers of Bonanza, which is still being shown 55 years, after the first episode was shown on NBC in 1959.
Blocker was born as Bobby Don Davis Blocker on December 10, 1928 in De Kalb, Texas. Reports say that Blocker was the heaviest baby, ever born in Bowie County at 14 pounds. Blocker would attend college at Hardin-Simmons and Sul Ross State Teacher’s College. He also played on the football team for both institutions. He graduated from Hardin-Simmons with a degree in English, then earned his master’s degree at Sul Ross in dramatic arts.
He reportedly lifted a car off a man, after a jack had fallen and pinned the man. Blocker served during the Korean War as an infantry sergeant and was awarded the Purple Heart for combat wounds.
Blocker taught and acted, while being a history teacher at Sonora High School in Sonora, Texas from 1953-1958. He did appear on Broadway and made his first television appearance Sheriff of Cochise in 1957. He was extremely busy from then till he was chosen as a cast member for Bonanza. The following website will show all of his acting roles on television and in the movies. He appeared in 415 episodes of Bonanza, with only Lorne Greene and Michael Landon appearing in more episodes, with 430 and 426 episodes respectively.
Bonanza was on NBC for 14 years from 1959-1973.
Then he received his big break, when he took his family to California, with plans to earn his Ph.D from UCLA. However, he was spotted in a phone booth, in western garb and was spotted by an agent. He then received the role of Hoss on Bonanza and that was the end of his plans for a Ph.D.
I learned just last week than Dan Blocker had started the Bonanza Steak House business in 1963.
Blocker ballooned to 365 pounds at one point and it is no surprise after seeing what he ate at one breakfast:
Dan Blocker Breakfast
Two loaves of bread
Two quarts of milk
So it was no wonder, that Blocker had a serious weight problem.
Life came to an end for Dan Blocker on May 13, 1972 in Los Angeles, California. He died of a pulmonary embolism after gall bladder surgery. Dan Blocker was 43 at the time of his death.
Lorne Greene sat with Dan’s wife Dolphia in the Blocker home, after his death and Greene couldn’t stop crying. – The Show Must Go On: How the Deaths of Lead Actors Have Affected Television …by Douglas Snauffer
Summary: Most of us will remember Dan Blocker as Hoss on Bonanza, but he was also an educator, a war veteran who received Purple Heart, for wounds in Korean War. He also started the Bonanza Steak House franchise, that grew to be very successful.
Most of all from all indications Dan Blocker was a good person, who was only trying to earn a living to support his family. Dan Blocker the person may not still be alive 42 years after his death, but his memory will live on for years and years, due to Bonanza being shown to new generations, in the years to come.
One thought on “Dan Blocker: Teacher, Korean War Veteran, Purple Heart Recipient, Actor and Restaurant Franchise Owner”
I never heard a bad word anywhere about Dan Blocker. I was watching Gunsmoke the other night and saw him on there…I was caught off guard…It was pre-Bonanza…He was one of the most likable characters ever on television…He was also involved in race cars…