‘Bonanza’: One Member of the Iconic Series Was a Purple Heart Recipient

by Emily Morgan

Before Dan Blocker took on the part as Eric “Hoss” Cartwright in the series, “Bonanza,” he had another role serving in the army.

The army drafted Blocker in 1950, and he subsequently began serving as an infantry sergeant. From 1951 to 1952, Blocker was in F Company, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division in Korea.

Blocker soon became a war hero, earning himself a prestigious Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat.

In addition to the honor, Blocker received other awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

Not only did Blocker leave a lasting mark on television history, but in military history as well.

Blocker made an impression on the world and his parents almost immediately, weighing in at an impressive fourteen pounds when he was born.

As a child, Blocker attended the Texas Military Institute and attended the Southern Baptist-affiliated Hardin–Simmons University.

He would use his large stature when he played football while in college. Following his graduation in 1950, the army drafted Blocker into the military.

After several years of serving in the Korean War, Blocker returned to the states and earned a master’s degree in dramatic arts.

During the 1950s, Blocker began teaching English to students in Texas. Later in 1957, Blocker started acting in numerous television shows, taking on comedic or villainous roles.

Unfortunately, Blocker’s size made it hard for him to find roles he related to, but all that would change in 1959.

Dan Blocker Gets Role Of A Lifetime In ‘Bonanza’ Following Army Duties

Blocker landed his big break when he was cast as Eric “Hoss” Cartwright in “Bonanza” in 1959.

His character frequently had to get his younger brother, played by Michael Landon, out of trouble during the show.

For 13 seasons, he worked on the western until a health issue forced him into early retirement.

In 1972, Blocker suffered a pulmonary embolism after undergoing gall bladder surgery. That year, 43-year-old Blocker was still starring in “Bonanza” when he tragically died.

After his death, the writers did something unusual and addressed his passing during an episode. This was something that producers had rarely done before.

Even though Blocker’s death was untimely, his fans will always remember him for his incredible acting and heroic patriotism.