Blocker was born in De Kalb, Bowie County, Texas
December 10, 1928. Soon after his birth, the
family moved to O'Donnell, Texas in Lynn County,
where they operated a store. The former Blocker
Store is now an abandoned building in downtown
As a boy, he attended Texas Military Institute,
and in 1946 played football at Hardin-Simmons
University in Abilene, Texas. In 1947, he
transferred to and later graduated from Sul Ross
State Teacher's College in Alpine, Texas, in
1950, where he was a star football player.
Blocker's career as a football player was cut
short when he was drafted into the United States
Army during the Korean War in 1951. He received
a Purple Heart for wounds in combat. After two
years of military service, he went on to earn a
master's degree in the dramatic arts. While a
student, Blocker worked as a rodeo performer and
as a bouncer in a beer bar.
After college, Blocker worked as a high-school
English and drama teacher in Sonora, Texas in
Sutton County, from 1953 to 1958. Later, he was
a sixth-grade teacher and coach at Eddy
Elementary School in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and
then a teacher in California.
Blocker's acting career started in 1956 when he
appeared in a Three Stooges short, Outer Space
Jitters, having portrayed the part of The Goon,
billed as "Don Blocker". He made two appearances
on the long-running Gunsmoke series: the first
on August 25, 1956, in "Alarm at Pleasant
Valley" and the second on October 18, 1958, in
"Thoroughbreds". He also appeared in 1957 as
Will in the episode, "A Time to Die" of the
ABC/Warner Brothers Western series, Colt .45,
starring Wayde Preston.
Blocker's big break came in 1959, when he was
cast as Eric "Hoss" Cartwright on the
long-running NBC television series Bonanza, and
played the role in 415 episodes until his death.
On May 13, 1972, Blocker died in Los Angeles at
age 43 of a pulmonary embolism following gall
bladder surgery. Blocker's remains are interred
in a family plot in Woodmen Cemetery, in De
Kalb, Texas, although he had lived there only
briefly. The common grave site is marked by a
plain stone with the name "B. Dan D. Blocker"
engraved; two family members are buried beside