From 1959 until 1973, NBC aired 14 seasons of Bonanza. The legendary television show was known for being ahead of its time, with the courage to tackle social topics such as racism and feminism in a period that was opposed to it.
Despite this, the show received good ratings and successfully set a precedent for other comedic shows. Its success was undoubtedly due to the excellent actors who were on board.
Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, Parnell Roberts, Lorne Greene, and Michael Landon. However, one unfortunate incident involving Dan Blocker changed the course of the series.
Here's what happened to Hoss on Bonanza.
Who is Dan Blocker?
Bobby Dan Davis Blocker was an American television actor and Korean War veteran best known for his role as Hoss Cartwright in the long-running NBC Western series Bonanza.
His parents are Ora “Shack” Blocker and Mary Arizona (Davis) Blocker.
Blocker attended the Texas Military Institute as a child. In 1940, he enrolled in a San Antonio school, which led to Hardin-Simmons University and Sul Ross State University, where he received a degree in speech and theater.
Blocker began his football career in 1946 at the Southern Baptist-affiliated Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas.
He transferred to Sul Ross State Teacher's College in Alpine, Texas, in 1947, and graduated in 1950 as a standout football player. He received a master's degree in dramatic arts after two years of military service.
While a student, Blocker worked as a rodeo performer and a bouncer in a pub. He is recognized from his school days for his 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) height and 300 lb (140 kg) weight, as well as his kind demeanor despite his imposing proportions.
From 1953 to 1954, Blocker taught high school English and theater in Sonora, Texas; sixth-grade teacher and coach at Eddy Elementary School in Carlsbad, New Mexico; and then a teacher in California. Blocker and his wife Dolphin relocated to Los Angeles, where he found work as an actor.
How Did Hoss on Bonanza Die?
Dan Blocker was undoubtedly the show's most popular actor. His character Hoss represented his real-life attitude, which was nothing but warm-hearted and friendly despite his larger build on the outside.
Blocker died on May 13, 1972, at the age of 43, of a pulmonary embolism following gallbladder surgery at Daniel Freeman Hospital in Los Angeles.
He made history by being one of the few heavyweight actors to achieve success. Unfortunately, the actor died at the age of 43. This occurred about a month after the season 13 finale aired in 1972.
Apparently, his abrupt death was not that unexpected after all, as he had previously displayed signs of illness. He died as a result of a postoperative pulmonary embolism.
As a result, the writers were forced to make the difficult decision to write him off the show because they did not want to recast his character with anyone else.
The producers opted to give Hoss a heroic end, with him drowning in an attempt to save a woman. His death did not sit well with the bereaved fans, and the show suffered from low viewership figures in the aftermath.
This prompted the writers to bring the renowned program to an end, with Season 14 being the final season.
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The show's roster has undergone several changes over the years, including the departure of Pernell Roberts, but nothing had a greater influence on the show than Dan Blocker's departure.
His character's demise also marked the first time in television history that a show dealt with an on-screen death.