Lance Kerwin, Salem's Lot Star, Dies at 62

Lance Kerwin, best known for his role in the original TV adaptation of Stephen King's beloved 'Salem's Lot, has died. He was 62 years old. Kerwin's daughter Savanah announced the news on Facebook, saying that her father passed away on Tuesday in California, and thanking friends and fans for their kind words. At this point, no cause of death or details on a funeral or celebration of life have been revealed. In 2020, Kerwin expressed an interest in returning to acting, and after more than 20 years away, returned to the screen in the indie film The Wind and the Reckoning in 2022.

Kerwin, who also starred in the TV series James at 15, was born in 1960 in Newport Beach, California. His father was an acting coach and his mother was a talent agent, which made pursuing film and television an obvious path for him.

"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 a journeyman actor when he was young, appearing not just in James at 15 and 'Salem's Lot, but on numerous popular TV shows throughout the 1970s, including Little House on the Prairie, Gunsmoke, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman

British Film Institute governor John Holmstrom once referred to Kerwin as "probably America's leading boy actor of the late Seventies...a handsome lad...[with] considerable sensitivity as an actor."

He had an uncredited appearance in Escape From Witch Mountain, and was a regular on ABC afterschool specials and more than a dozen TV movies throughout the '70s. He continued to work until 1995, when his final screen appearance for more than 20 years was as a mercenary in the Dustin Hoffman/Renee Russo movie Outbreak.

James at 15 launched as a TV movie, then became a series, and ultimately had a name change to James at 16, after a "very special episode" about the title character (Kerwin) losing his virginity just as he turned 16 years old. The storyline angered some viewers, woh wrote letters of complaint to the network, but had a lasting cultural impact: years later, Kevin Williamson would tell Entertainment Weekly that the series inspired the creation of Dawson's Creek.

"Dawson's Creek came out of my desire to do James at 15 for the '90s," Williamson said. "It was very provocative and way ahead of its time."

Later in life, Kerwin worked as a pastor in Hawaii, and for an organization called U Turn for Christ, which provided spiritual counseling to people struggling with drug and alcohol issues.