Bonanza actor Dan Blocker, who played the fan-favorite character Hoss on the classic western series, tragically left us far too soon. Blocker died in 1972, after undergoing a routine gall bladder surgery. He developed a blood clot in his lung, and passed away of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 43. Blocker was survived at the time by his wife and four children.
Blocker was a major star at the time of his death, as he had still been a cast member on Bonanza. In an unprecedented move for television, producers chose to kill off Hoss as well. Before this, no young male characters had ever been killed off a TV series. However, it was not until the Bonanza: The Next Generation premiered that it was explained how Hoss died. According to the story, Hoss drowned while attempting to save a woman's life. All-together, Blocker appeared in 415 episodes of Bonanza, between 1959 and 1972.
Hollywood actor Dan Blocker played "Hoss Cartwright" on the TV show Bonanza. In real life, he was a soldier in the 45th Infantry Division who served two tours of duty during the #KoreanWar and received a #PurpleHeart for wounds suffered in combat. A true American #Hero 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/CuO0w7ySvd— A Soldier's Whisper (@SoldiersWhisper) May 8, 2020
In addition to being a family man and a big Hollywood star, Blocker was also a military veteran. He was drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War and served as an infantry sergeant from December 1951 to August 1952. He was awarded a Purple Heart, after suffering wounds in combat, and also reportedly received the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal, Korean War Service Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge.
Always one to have a kind word or good advice, Blocker once commented on his celebrity status by candidly addressing how off-putting it could be at times. "Fame frightens me; it truly does, perhaps because I wasn’t expecting it," he was quoted as saying, per Insp.com. "I feel like I have a tiger by the tail. I’m in this business for the money. I need money, like anyone else, because I want to give to my wife and kids a good home and a good life. It’s what any man wants to do for his family. …I’m just an ordinary guy."