Actor Lance Kerwin, who starred in the TV series “James at 15” and as Mark Petrie, the teenager who becomes a vampire hunter in the Stephen King miniseries “Salem’s Lot,” died Tuesday in San Clemente, California. He was 62 years old. An autopsy to determine the cause of death is being performed, according to his daughter Savanah.
Kerwin began his career as a child actor, primarily known for his roles in television and film, including the TV movie “The Boy Who Drank Too Much”. “James at 15” became “James at 16” in Season 2.
Kerwin starred as James Hunter in “James at 15” and “James at 16”. First premiering in 1977, “James at 15” followed a young teenage boy fascinated by photography who was forced to move with his family from Oregon to Massachusetts. The series would continue to face controversy after airing an episode in which James engages in premarital sex and loses his virginity, sparking thousands of letters in protest. The struggling teenager’s story would continue on “James at 16” and air 21 episodes on NBC during the 1977-1978 season. The series was notable for facing the issues of the day, and most shows about teenagers in the 1970s had actors in their 20s, such as “Happy Days.”
Although “James at 15” only lasted two seasons, Kerwin’s starring role would make him a teenage heartthrob. The teenage sensation was adored by millions of girls during the 1970s, which helped him land several cover stories in fan magazines, including Tiger Beat.
In a 2019 interview, he talked about working with Tobe Hopper on “Salem’s Lot,” which he said was on a “completely different level than most directors I’d worked with.”
“One scene that was quite interesting was the bedroom scene when the vampire boy, I think it was Danny Glick, comes to the window and says: “Let me in. Let me in.” Throughout that scene, the film was running backwards in the camera. We started at the end and went backwards all the way to the beginning where I’m lying in bed opening my eyes. That’s why it seems like there’s something else…something strange about it. The smoke flows differently because of the way the scene was shot,” he told interviewer Casey Chambers.
Throughout the 1970s, the “James at 15” actor appeared in a number of TV series and TV movies, including “Wonder Woman,” “Insight,” “The Family Holvak” and “Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy.” One of his last roles was in the 1995 film “Outbreak,” and he returned to the screen last year in “The Wind and the Reckoning.”
He later became a youth pastor in California and Hawaii.
Born on November 6, 1960, in Newport Beach, California, Kerwin began appearing on television as a young teenager in “Little House on the Prairie,” “Emergency!” and “Cannon”.
Kerwin is survived by his five children: Savanah, Fox, Terah, Kailani and Justus.