Lance Kerwin dead at 62: Starred in ‘James at 16,’ ‘Salem’s Lot’

Lance Kerwin dead at 62: Starred in ‘James at 16,’ ‘Salem’s Lot’

TV star Lance Kerwin has died at age 62.

The small-screen actor — who appeared in the 1970s series “James at 16” and the made-for-TV movie “Salem’s Lot” — passed away Tuesday in California.

The sad news was announced on Facebook by his daughter, Savanah. A cause of death has not been disclosed.

“We appreciate all the kind words, memories, and prayers that have been shared,” his daughter wrote. “As the coming weeks progress, I will share more information about after-life ceremonies.”

Kerwin was born in 1960 in Newport Beach, California. The youngest of five brothers, he grew up in a showbiz family, with an acting coach dad and a talent agent mom.

His first TV role came at the age of 13 when he appeared on a 1974 episode of “Emergency!”

Lance Kerwin — who famously appeared in the 1970s series “James at 16” and the made-for-TV movie “Salem’s Lot” — died Tuesday in Kuawai, Hawaii.
Getty Images; Everett Collection

Kerwin quickly became a small-screen staple during the 1970s, guest starring on shows including “Gunsmoke,” “Wonder Woman” and “The Bionic Woman.”

In 1977, he scored the lead role in the made-for-TV movie “James at 15,” which served as a pilot and subsequently spawned the popular series of the same name.

In a risky move for the time, the plot of the NBC show’s 12th episode — titled “The Gift” — called for James to shockingly lose his virginity to a Swedish exchange student on the cusp of his 16th birthday, which led to a title shift to “James at 16.”

The sexual nature of the then-controversial storyline prompted viewers to write letters of complaint to the network.

The Emmy-nominated show only ran for one season but was otherwise widely acclaimed, with Kerwin earning particular praise for his performance.

“Dawson’s Creek” creator Kevin Williamson later said the show served as inspiration for his hit 1990s series, telling Entertainment Weekly: “‘Dawson’s Creek’ came out of my desire to do ‘James at 15’ for the ’90s. It was very provocative and way ahead of its time.”

After the success of “James at 16,” Kewin appeared in the 1979 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s hit novel “Salem’s Lot.”

In 1977, he scored the lead role in the made-for-TV movie "James at 15." The movie subsequently served as the starting point for the popular series "James at 16."
In 1977, he scored the lead role in the made-for-TV movie “James at 15.” The movie subsequently served as the starting point for the popular series.

He continued to act into the 1980s and ’90s, appearing in a slew of short-lived series and made-for-TV movies. His last credited appearance was the 2002 drama “The Wind & the Reckoning.”

Kerwin’s marriage to his first wife, Kristen Lansdale, ended in divorce. He married his second wife, Yvonne, in 2000.

A 2010 article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune revealed that Kerwin had relocated to Hawaii and had been placed on five years probation after pleading guilty to a theft charge.

Kerwin was caught falsifying documents to obtain state medical assistance and food stamps and was reportedly working as a pastor and a U-Turn for Christ program leader.

Kerwin is pictured in 2022.
Kerwin is pictured in 2022. His last credited appearance was the 2002 drama “The Wind & The Reckoning.”
Getty Images

According to Deadline, a 2021 GoFundMe page indicated that Kerwin had fallen on hard times in the years since his run-in with the law. It also claimed he had been suffering various health issues.

Kerwin is survived by his wife and his five children.


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Author: Andrew Court

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