Lance Kerwin, the actor best known for his roles on the coming-of-age TV series James at 16 and as Mark Petrie in the Stephen King adaptation Salem’s Lot, died Tuesday, according to his daughter Savanah. He was 62.
Kerwin was born in Newport Beach, California, and grew up in a showbiz family, with a dad who was an acting coach and a mom who worked as a talent agent. He started appearing on episodic TV as a child, and continued to do so into the 1990s.
It was Kerwin’s role as the teen who becomes a vampire hunter in the 1979 television horror miniseries Salem’s Lot that brought him wider attention and led to a long career in acting. The project, which also starred James Mason and David Soul, earned three Emmy nominations. Kerwin’s other TV credits included appearances on shows such as Emergency!, Little House on the Prairie, Gunsmoke, Wonder Woman, and The Bionic Woman. He also appeared in made-for-TV movies such as Children of Divorce, Advice to the Lovelorn, and Insight. He also had a brief turn as a mercenary in the 1995 film Outbreak.
He retired from acting in the 1990s to become a youth pastor, and eventually moved to Hawaii, where he was working for the U-Turn for Christ ministry, according to his daughter. A GoFundMe account set up in 2021 to assist with his medical expenses indicated that he had suffered from a back injury and unspecified other health issues.
Although details about his life are scarce, the family appreciates all of the kind words, memories, and prayers that have been shared in this time of grief. Savanah says her father “fought hard for sobriety and loved God more than anything.”
Despite his success on the small screen, Kerwin had a troubled personal life that arguably contributed to his decision to retire from acting in the mid-’90s. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to second-degree theft for falsifying documents to obtain state medical assistance and food stamps in Hawaii, The Associated Press reported. He was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.
Kerwin is survived by his wife Yvonne and their five children, including Savanah. The family plans to hold an after-life ceremony for him. More details will be announced as they become available.