At the time of his birth in 1928, Dan Blocker was reported to be the largest baby born in Bowie County, Texas; he weighed 14 lbs. He began acting in college where he also played football and boxed though he mainly pursued a career as a teacher. The Korean War interrupted his theater development, and after the war he moved to L.A. to work on his Ph.D in education. It was then that he began taking bit parts in TV Westerns to make ends meet and he scored when he was cast as the hulking Eric Hoss Cartwright on Bonanza
. Blocker's singing voice was heard on two Bonanza
cast albums, as well as a solo album of his own pop tunes. The tall actor launched a chain of restaurants called the Bonanza Steak House in the 1960s. He died of a blood clot to the brain on May 13, 1972. Though the show went on, his presence was sorely missed -- the show was canceled in 1973. There is a museum in Blocker's hometown of ODonnell, Texas dedicated to him.
The middle Cartwright brother, Hoss is a big, loveable lug. Much larger than his brothers, he's also gullible and more than a little simple-minded -- and easily manipulated by Adam and Little Joe. Hoss' heart is big, and he sees the humor in most situations. Slow to anger, he's also strong and not to be trifled with. He defends his family at all costs, and is ready to help strangers who need his care. His naiveté gets him into trouble sometimes, though in the end, he always manages to find his way out of a jam.