In 1959, the show Bonanza premiered and changed television forever. Lasting 14 seasons, Bonanza is NBC’s longest-running western, and is the second-longest running western on US television, behind Gunsmoke, which ran for 20 years.
Bonanza was centered around Ben Cartwright, who is a three-time widower, and his three sons. Adam Cartwright, played by Pernell Roberts, Eric “Hoss” Cartwright, played by Dan Blocker, and Joseph Cartwright, played by Michael Landon. They all lived on a Lake Tahoe, Nevada-area ranch called the Ponderosa.
The show was a little different than other westerns, focusing more on Ben and his sons, who could not be more different from each other, and how much they cared for each other.
One of the most beloved characters on Bonanza was Hoss, who was a warm and lovable giant. Played by actor Dan Blocker – who stood at six-foot-four, and weighed 320 pounds – he was just as loved as his character. The crew said he was the “least actor-ish as well as the most likeable” cast member on set, according to the book Bonanza: A Viewer’s Guide to the TV Legend.
BONANZA: A Viewer's Guide to the TV Legend ~ David Greenland ~ NEAR-NEW ~ 1st ed – Bid Now… https://t.co/PsCEVP9wZR pic.twitter.com/ZD0GCnTlgQ
— Laelta Seohho (@Laelta__Seohho) February 19, 2016
Blocker unexpectedly passed away in 1972 at the age of 43 from a pulmonary embolism following surgery to remove his gall bladder. Bonanza chose to kill off his character following his death, marking the first time a television show killed off a major young male character.
He left behind a wife, Dolphia, and four children, one of which followed his footsteps and became an actor himself. His name is Dennis Dirk Blocker, but goes by Dirk – and he looks JUST like his dad. Dirk currently stars as the hilarious Detective Hitchcock on the NBC comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but has had a long career in show business. His credits range from Baa Baa Black Sheep, to Poltergeist, to Walker, Texas Ranger, and even made an appearance in the TV movie Bonanza: The Return, just to name a few.
What the…?!?! Thanks a lot, guys!#Brooklyn99 @nbcbrooklyn99 pic.twitter.com/TWEeBY8Saw
— Dirk Blocker (@DirkBlocker) March 8, 2019
Check out some photos of Dan and Dirk below, and tell us we’re not seeing double!
On this day in 1972, we said goodbye to Dan Blocker. #RIP Hoss Cartwright. pic.twitter.com/KpNZXp7VoE
— MeTV (@MeTV) May 13, 2015
Dan Blocker, aka”Hoss,” was drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War. He had basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He is best remembered for his role as Hoss Cartwright in #Bonanza. He received a Purple Heart for wounds in combat. pic.twitter.com/5yoG4xamsC
— DeJaViewed (@DeJaViewedUSA) August 7, 2018
Nothing accidental about – I was aiming for the bastard https://t.co/vm76kHUFhB
— Dirk Blocker (@DirkBlocker) January 28, 2019
@DirkBlocker You were always too good for Gloria anyway. #mash #didnotexpecttoseeyou pic.twitter.com/rXcdNddZEY
— Eric (@cosmicfool13) May 3, 2019
Here you go ? pic.twitter.com/KbXLPFQDAl
— Joel McKinnon Miller (@JoelMcKMiller) April 21, 2019
Not only does Dirk have an uncanny resemblance to his famous father, he also has his friendly demeanor.
@JoelMcKMiller @DirkBlocker is the friendship I never knew I needed. pic.twitter.com/mprPqB8Xda
— ?HelloCitrus? (@HelloCitruss) May 6, 2019
Watch some of Dirk’s best moments on Brooklyn Nine-Nine below.