Lance Kerwin, Star Of Salem's Lot, Dies At 62
Lance Kerwin, who began his performing career on the small screen as a child actor in the 1970s, has passed away at the age of 62. His career included appearing in a number of memorable TV shows, including the starring role in 1977's James At 15, but he is perhaps best remembered for his role in Tobe Hooper's 1979 miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's Salem's Lot.
News of Kerwin's death comes from The Hollywood Reporter, who received confirmation from the his daughter, Savanah. The actor passed away on Tuesday morning, though the cause of death was not revealed to the trade. He is survived by his wife Yvonne and five children.
Born in Newport Beach, California on November 6, 1960, Lance Kerwin was the youngest of five brothers and he made his on screen debut at the age of 14 – appearing as "Wheeler Boy" in the third season of the medical drama Emergency! That role was followed by single episode appearances in shows such as Shazam!, Gunsmoke, Wonder Woman, and The Bionic Woman.
In 1976 he starred in writer/director Michael Landon's made-for-TV movie The Lonliest Runner, and soon after he won the titular role in the series James At 15: a coming-of-age drama centering on a boy whose family moves from their home in Oregon to Massachusetts (the show changed its title to James At 16 when the character had a birthday). It ran for 21 episodes between 1977 and 1978.
It was about a year after the show concluded that Kerwin became a part of horror history with his role in Salem's Lot. In the two-episode miniseries, he played the role of Mark Petrie – a young monster-obsessive who ends up teaming up with protagonist Ben Mears (David Soul) when it's discovered that the eponymous town is slowly being taken over by vampires. At the end of the story, Mark and Ben end up being the only survivors. The adaptation is a favorite among Stephen King fans (it was only the second one made following the success of Brian De Palma's Carrie), and Mark is a beloved character. It was a hit that earned three Emmy nominations.
In the 1980s, he continued to make regular appearances on hit television show, including Trapper John, M.D., Simon & Simon, and Murder, She Wrote.
In 1995 he made what was for a long time his last acting appearance, playing a mercenary in virus-centric thriller Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Donald Sutherland, and Patrick Dempsey. He became a pastor working in Hawaii, but in 2022, Lance Kerwin made his return to acting with a supporting part in David L. Cunningham's historical drama The Wind & The Reckoning.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to Lance Kerwin's family – and in his memory, you can enjoy his wonderful working by renting/purchasing Salem's Lot on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or Apple.