Dan Blocker was an American film and TV actor, who is probably best remembered for his performance in the TV series “Bonanza.” He was a war veteran, who served his country in the Korean War.

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Age, Early Life, and Education Background

Bobby Dan Davis Blocker was a native of De Kalb, Texas, born under the Sagittarius zodiac sign on 10 December 1928, the son of Mary Arizona Blocker and Ora ‘Shack’ Blocker. His parents owned a grocery store in O’Donnell, Texas. Dan had a sister named Ora Virginia Blocker, who sadly passed away aged 12 years old in 1933.

In 1940 Blocker joined a San Antonio high school, then enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University, situated in Abilene, Texas. In 1946, he began playing Football for his college’s team. Blocker was also an alumnus of Sul Ross State University (SRSU), which is situated in Alpine, Texas, joining SRSU in 1947, and graduating with a BA in Speech and Drama in 1950. When he was young, Dan attended the San Antonio-based Texas Military Institute (TMI). After serving in the US Army for two years, the late actor resumed his studies, and shortly afterwards earned his Dramatic Arts master’s degree. Dan held a PhD in Dramatic Arts from the prestigious University of California, Los Angeles. He briefly worked as a teacher before relocating to Los Angeles, California, to begin an acting career.

Interesting Facts

Blocker worked as a part-time bouncer in a local bar to cater to his financial needs as a student, and once earned a living as a rodeo performer.

In 1953 and 1954, Dan worked as a Drama and English tutor in Sonora, Texas, and later also as Carlsbad, New Mexico-based Eddy Elementary School’s coach and sixth-grade teacher. He continued teaching after relocating to Los Angeles.

The late actor was outspoken about his political views – he was a liberal Democrat, and supported the re-election of Pat Brown as California’s governor (1966) against Ronald Wilson Reagan, who later became the 40th president of the US.

Before he sold his Hancock Park, Los Angeles-based Tudor-style mansion to the American heavy metal singer-songwriter, filmmaker, record producer and actor, Rob Zombie, Dan was neighbors with the late jazz pianist and singer Nat King Cole. The house was featured in an episode of the TV documentary show “MTV Cribs.”

The Texan actor was a big fan of performance automobiles who once owned a 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Z-16 and a 1965 Huffaker Genie MK10 racing car, which was nicknamed ‘Vinegaroon.’ The latter was driven in the U.S. Road Racing Championship of 1965 and 1966.


Dan was drafted into the US Army in the early ‘50s during the Korean War, receiving his basic training in Louisiana. He served in various ranks during service in Korea – he was an infantry sergeant in the F Company of the 2nd Battalion, 45th Infantry Division, and 179th Infantry Regiment. For the wounds he sustained during combat, Dan was awarded a Purple Heart. He was also a recipient of the Korean Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal (NDSM), Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), and the United Nations Service Medal, among other decorations.

Acting Career

In 1957, Blocker landed the role of a bartender named Mike in the mystery B-movie (low-budget film) “The Girl in Black Stockings.” In the same year, he was cast for uncredited roles in two more films, before landing the role of Pete in the 10th episode of the second season of the Western TV series “Cheyenne.” Between 1957 and 1958, Dan appeared in five episodes of the NBC Western series “The Restless Gun”, ans went on to appear in single episodes of a few other TV series, including the Western drama “Gunsmoke” in the late ‘50s.

Rise to Prominence

In 1959, Blocker landed his career-defining role of the brawny and kind Hoss Cartwright in the NBC Western series “Bonanza.” The show, which was the first Western project broadcast in color, followed the Cartwright family of ranchers, who are residents of the mining boomtown of Virginia City in Nevada. Dan starred alongside the likes of Michael Landon, Lorne Greene and Pernell Roberts, and appeared in 415 episodes during his 13-year stint, which ended in 1972. His performance in “Bonanza” saw him receive two joint awards: A Bambi Award (1969) and a Western Heritage Award (1970). Concurrently, Dan assumed minor roles in a few films, including the 1968 NBC TV film “Something for a Lonely Man”, before he appeared in 14 episodes of the comedy “The Flip Wilson Show” in 1971.

Personal Life

Blocker met his future wife, Dolphia Parker when he was a student at SRSU. The duo dated for a few months and eventually wed on 25 August 1952. Parker was born in 1933 (90 years old) and is an actress and co-writer of the book “Bonanza: The Definitive Ponderosa Companion.” Dan was the father of identical twins, the artist Debra Lee Blocker and Danna Lynn Blocker, who were born in 1953. On 4 May 1955, Parker bore him a son named David Blocker, who is an Emmy Award-winning film producer, known for producing the 1997 TV film “Don King: Only in America.” On 31 July 1957, the couple welcomed another son named Dirk Blocker, who also followed in his father’s footsteps to become an actor, known for “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Blocker was a devout member of the Free Methodist Church (FMC).


Dan succumbed to a pulmonary embolism (PE), – a blockage of a lung artery – following a gallbladder surgery done at the Inglewood, California-based Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital. He was 43 years old when he died on 13 May 1972, and was laid to rest beside his mom, father and sister, in a family plot in Woodmen Cemetery in De Kalb. To honor him, the following were named after Dan: Dan Blocker Beach in Malibu and Dan Blocker Avenue in Henderson, Nevada.

Height, Weight, and Physical Appearance

Dan was of American ethnicity, and had a pair of blue eyes and brown hair. He stood at an impressive height of 6ft 3ins (1.93m) and weighed approximately 300lbs (136kgs).

Net Worth

Dan earned a good sum from his successful acting career, which also made him fairly popular. He was worth approximately $5 million at the time of his death.

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