“James at 15” star dies at 62

Lance Kerwin was an actor who starred in the 1970s TV drama “James at 15” and miniseries “Salem’s Lot.”

Acting career

Kerwin was best known for the acclaimed 1977-’78 single-season drama “James at 15.” The influential show was renamed “James at 16” midway through the season when Kerwin’s title character turned 16. After the show’s cancellation, he had a starring role in the 1979 miniseries “Salem’s Lot,” based on the Stephen King book, playing a young man who becomes a vampire hunter. Kerwin’s early career included several appearances in ABC Afterschool Specials, as well as guest roles in such shows as “Little House on the Prairie,” “Gunsmoke,” and “The Bionic Woman.” He was also memorable in TV movies, particularly “The Loneliest Runner.” Kerwin continued acting through the 1980s and early ‘90s, with appearances on shows including “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Simon & Simon,” and “Murder, She Wrote.” Later, he left acting and became a youth pastor in Hawaii.

Kerwin on “James at 15”

“What was cool about it was James was really the only real teenager on TV at that time.  You had ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ which was all adults portraying teenagers.  You had ‘Happy Days’ which…all of those guys were 18 to 25. John Travolta and Ron Howard.  They were all adults portraying teenagers.  But James…now I was 15 or 16.  So I was really portraying a character who was more, ya know, real.” —from a 2019 interview for The College Crowd Digs Me.


Tributes to Lance Kerwin