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Lance Kerwin, who is remembered for his roles in the TV drama James at 15 (later James at 16) and the Stephen King miniseries Salem’s Lot, died Tuesday, January 24 in San Clemente, California. He was 62. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is being conducted, according to his daughter Savanah.
Born November 6, 1960 and raised in Lake Elsinore, California, Kerwin began his career on television with a roster of guest appearances on series like Emergency!, Little House on the Prairie, Police Story, Cannon and Gunsmoke before landing his first regularly scheduled role in the 1975 family-themed drama The Family Holvak. Headlined by Glenn Ford and Julie Harris, The Family Holvak was NBC’s attempt to capitalize on the success of CBS’ similar appear The Waltons, but it aired for only 10 episodes.
Following his next set of guest roles on television, plus five appearances on anthology The ABC Afternoon Special, Kerwin landed the role of James Hunter in the NBC coming-of-age drama James at 15. Praised for for its realism and sensitivity, the title was changed to James at 16 after James’ first sexual experience. Despite the media attention at the time, James at 15/16 lasted just one season.
Still in demand in his teen years, Kerwin segued into the aforementioned The Salem’s Lot in 1979.
In 1980, Kerwin headlined the TV movie The Boy Who Drank to Much, and he peppered his acting resume with guest appearances on TV shows like Hotel, Trapper John, M.D., Simon & Simon, Murder, She Wrote and The New Adam-12. A role in the Dustin Hoffman theatrical Outbreak in 1995 was his last professional credit until the 2022 film The Wind and the Reckoning.
After dealing with a reported drug problem in later years, Kerwin helped run a rehabilitation program and was a youth pastor in California and Hawaii.
Kerwin is survived by his five children: Savanah, Fox, Terah, Kailani, and Justus.