Dan Blocker: The Short Life And Tragic Death Of The Beloved “Bonanza” Star. After He Died, The Show Was Never The Same


He was robust in size and charm. He broke the mold of TV-star-looks and brought humor, personality, and heart to every role he played. He was the star of Bonanza, and died at only 43, on May 13, 1972.

His name was Dan Blocker, and he left a legacy of love for millions of TV viewers and those who knew him best.

According to FactsVerse.com, shortly before his demise, Blocker and his family moved to Switzerland because “he didn’t like U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war.” He commuted back and forth to Los Angeles to film Bonanza.”

In the spring of 1972, Blocker arrived in America to shoot what would become the last season of the show. But he was feeling ill and weak. As FactsVerse.com went on to report, Blocker went to the hospital and it was determined that he required gallbladder surgery; a cholecystectomy.

As further documented by FactsVerse.com, such a medical procedure is considered routine, as approximately “1.2 million” people undergo the operation every year.

Following the surgery, Blocker believed all was well. But then, as FactsVerse.com continued to explain, in recovery, Blocker “develops a pulmonary embolism – a blockage of an artery in his lung – and died.”

Blocker’s loyal Bonanza co-stars and dear pals Michael Landon and Lorne Green were devastated. Green, who played Ben Cartwright, Blocker’s TV father on the series, expressed great sorrow over his friend’s demise. As IMBD.com documented, “That’s it,” Green told his wife regarding Bonanza. “It’s finished.”


Indeed, Green was correct. As IMBD.com documents, Bonanza was the most popular TV series of the 1960s, when it ranked #1 for three straight seasons (1964-65 through 1966-67). The show spent a then-unprecedented nine seasons in the Top 5. After Blocker’s death, the series, though still in the Top 20, was not renewed.

According to Blocker’s biography on IMDB, “The character of Hoss was conceived as a stereotype: ‘The Gentle Giant.'” But the 6’4″, 300 lbs. Blocker lovingly broke that stereotype and “filled Hoss’s cowboy boots and ten-gallon hat admirably but brought something extra to the role, a warmth, and empathy that helped ground the show.”

In short, without Blocker’s presence, Bonanza was simply not the same. And as his IMDB bio concludes, several “personal accounts of Blocker testify to the fact that the man was gregarious and friendly to everyone. He brought that upbeat personality to the character of Hoss.”

And the TV viewers of 1972 very missed that personality, as still do Blocker’s countless fans today from around the world.