Dan Blocker was a giant from the day he was born
The Bonanza star was a true ''Hoss'' as a baby, child, and teenager.
There was no man in Hollywood better suited to play the gentle giant Eric Cartwright on Bonanza. Dan Blocker was a true "Hoss." And to think his only major role beforehand had been playing a guy named "Tiny" on Cimarron City. Blocker was never tiny, not even as a baby.
Shack and Mary Blocker welcomed their son into the world on December 10, 1928. According to the local records, "little" Bobby Dan Davis Blocker was the heaviest newborn in the history of Bowie County, Texas. The baby tipped the scales at an even 14 pounds.
When he started school as a toddler, he was already 5-feet tall, 105 pounds. By the age of 10, when not in class, he was working on a grain truck, side-by-side with grown men. The grain truck guys let the kid set the work pace. The youngster also worked grain elevators and construction. Labor laws were different back then.
At the age of 12, Block had shot up to 6-feet in height, 200 pounds.
"They called me 'The Big'n' and the citizens of O'Donnell [Texas] roped off a part of Main St. every Saturday night and pitted the local toughs against me," Blocker told The Fort Lauderdale News in 1959. He was 13, boxing 20-year-olds. He never lost.
By high school, as you might imagine, he was a handful — already the same size he was on the Ponderosa — at 6'4", 275 pounds. His shoe size? 14 1/2!
"My dad used to say that I was the 'onliest' man in Texas that wears a No. 14 shoe," Blocker said, "that I was too darned big to ride and too little to hitch to a wagon." That's why he fell into acting.
Funny enough, that led him to riding after all.