Lance Kerwin, 'James at 15' and 'Salem's Lot' Star, Dead at 62

Kerwin was a child and teen star who was known for his work in the 1970s.

Lance Kerwin, best known for his work in the 1970s as a child star and later a teen heartthrob following roles in James at 15 (later James at 16 for season 2), Salem's Lot and The Boy Who Drank Too Much, has died. He was 62.  

According to Kerwin's daughter, Savanah, her father died on Tuesday. The cause of death was not disclosed. 

"I am so sorry to those we have not been able to reach out to personally to notify but Lance Kerwin passed away yesterday morning," she wrote in her Facebook post on Wednesday. "We appreciate all the kind words, memories, and prayers that have been shared. As the coming weeks progress, I will share more information about after life ceremonies. He loved each and every one of you."

Kerwin made a name for himself as a child actor, starring in the TV series James at 15, which became James at 16 for season 2. Though the series only lasted two seasons in the late 1970s, the show became the subject of controversy when Kerwin's role as James Hunter -- the son of a college professor who struggled to his new surroundings after his family was uprooted from Oregon to Boston -- lost his virginity during pre-marital sex.

The episode, which aired Feb. 9, 1978, reportedly drew ire from viewers, who wrote thousands of letters to NBC in protest of the episode.

Kerwin would later play Mark Petrie in Salem's Lot, a miniseries based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, in which Petrie is a teen who transforms into a vampire hunter.

As a young boy, Kerwin proved ambitious. According to a 1977 report in the Lumberton, North Carolina, newspaper, The Robesonian, Kerwin as a 13-year-old wrote a letter to Clint Eastwood expressing his interest in acting, and even offered his services should Eastwood find himself in need of a young actor.

The outlet reported Eastwood never replied to the letter, but a director did, and offered Kerwin a small role in Reflections of a Murder, an ABC movie of the week. He’d also later land a role in the film Bad Men of the West.

Kerwin, who learned to love show business after making it a habit to read scrips his father, an acting coach, would bring home after work, was also a talented musician who played flute, piccolo, drums and piano. 

Kerwin, who also appeared on Little House on the Prairie, was born in Lake Elsinore, California, and later became a youth pastor in California and Hawaii.

He is survived by his five children.



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