Bonanza wasn’t just a Wild West hit show that captured the hearts of millions of people from all over the world, but some sort of a national treasure.
It aired for 14 years, making it the second longest-running western, as well as one of the most influential series of that kind of all time.
The series revolves around the lives of the three-time widower Ben Cartwright and his three sons Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe who all live in a prosperous Nevada ranch called Ponderosa. Each of the three brothers has a different mother and a very different background.
The role of Hoss Cartwright was portrayed by one and only Dan Blocker. Many agree that his incredible acting and charm gave soul to the show. His sudden passing at the age of just 43 back in 1972 was one of the main reasons why Bonanza was canceled after the 14th season. Everyone agreed that the last season lacked Dan’s presence so much that the producers decided to call it a quit.
Speaking of it, Lorne Greene told TV Guide: “After Dan’s death, I didn’t see how the show could continue. I said to my wife, ‘That’s it. It’s finished.’ I know Michael Landon felt the same way.”
Dan, who was married to his college sweetheart Dolphia Parker, was a father of four. The cause of his death was listed as pulmonary embolism which followed after a gall bladder surgery.
Years after his passing, Dan is still considered an icon and a legend. His role in Bonanza marked an era in the history of television and his children made sure they did all it took to keep their famous father’s legacy alive.
Dan’s son Dirk followed into his father’s footsteps. He’s also the one who resembles Dan the most. Not only he inherited the acting talent, but the looks as well. Throughout the years, Dirk appeared in a number of series and films, including Murder She Wrote, Texas Ranger and Beverly Hills 90210. However, he’s probably most famous for his role of lazy, aging detective Michael Hitchcock in the series Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Dirk also appeared in Bonanza: The Return as a reporter named Fenster.
Speaking of what kind of a father Dan Blocker was, 63-year-old Dirk recalled that he was a family man who always put his wife and children first. In order to be able to spend time with them, he would take them on the set of Bonanza very often.
“I suppose I was bitten by the acting bug at an early age while going to work with my dad,” Dirk Blocker said in an interview with Jeff Pearlman. “His schedule was such that this was one of the only ways to spend a lot of time with him. As a result, I’d watch as he and his cohorts would be chatting amiably about current events one minute, and then watch them transform themselves into someone else when called to the set—a kind of learning through osmosis. That, and that he enjoyed his work so much likely carried over for me.”
Dirk’s brother, David, is also part of the film industry but in the role of a producer. His most prominent movie is Don King: Only in America for which he received an Emmy.
Dan Blocker was truly one of a kind. We are forever grateful for his role of Hoss Cartwright.