How ‘Bonanza’ Writers Had ‘Great Advantage’ With Part of Hoss Cartwright

by Joe Rutland

One of the most iconic TV characters ever developed was Hoss Cartwright of Bonanza. That role, though, was created for Dan Blocker.

How did that work out?

We get some information on this thanks to an article from MeTV.

While it seems that Blocker was born to play Hoss, it really is no coincidence. Bonanza series creator and producer David Dotort told EmmyTVLegends that he actually wrote that role specifically for Blocker.

“When it came to writing the part of Hoss Cartwright, I wrote it with Blocker in mind,” Dotort said. “That was a great advantage because I knew his qualities as an actor.”

Blocker played Eric “Hoss” Cartwright on the NBC Western drama from 1959 through 1972. Yes, Outsiders, the show did end in 1973. But Blocker died from complications of gallbladder surgery on May 13, 1972, at 43 years old.

Bonanza never really recovered from losing Blocker. While there are many characters from that show people do remember, avid viewers probably point out Hoss as their favorite.

In the show’s initial cast, Blocker starred alongside Michael Landon, Lorne Greene, and Pernell Roberts.

‘Bonanza’ Star Would Have Been 93 In December 2021. Here’s A Look at His Life

Dan Blocker was a native Texan, born in De Kalb, Texas. The city is located in Northeast Texas, due west of Texarkana, Texas.

The Bonanza star would have been 93 years old if he had lived until Dec. 10, 2021.

Blocker played college football at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. He also earned a degree in speech and drama.

Then he served in the U.S. Military during the Korean War from 1951-52 after he was drafted into the US Army. He was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during combat. After serving in the military, he went back to school and received a master’s degree in drama.

When did Dan Blocker start his acting career? That would be in 1957. Get this: Blocker made his first credited appearance in Outer Space Jitters. Who were the stars? None other than The Three Stooges whom, at that time, were made up of Moe Howard, LarryFine, and Joe Besser.

Blocker played a character called the “Goon” but he was credited as Don Blocker. Uncredited roles before the Stooges short included The Girl in Black Stockings, Black Patch, and Gunsight Ridge.

He then played five different roles on The Restless Gun. Guest appearances on some of the legendary western shows would follow in Have Gun – Will Travel, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, The Rebel, and The Young Captives.

After all of that, the Bonanza star began playing Hoss in 1959. Blocker played Hoss for 415 episodes until he died in 1972.