Flipping further into the January 30, 1978 issue of People Magazine we find a rare look at teen actor Lance Kerwin and his acclaimed (much-too-short-lived) show James at 15. James at 15 premiered October 27, 1977 on NBC and lasted only one season with the show’s title cleverly warping to James at 16 midway through its run. Hey, this show was so real James got older in real time while we watched.
I loved this series and really related to Lance Kerwin even if he was four years older. This issue of People focuses on the upcoming ‘controversial’ episode in which James, turning 16, loses his virginity to a hot Swedish exchange student. I’m sure she had Farrah hair and smelled like bubble gum-flavored Lip Smackers. At least, that’s how I remember it. I haven’t seen the series since its original run. I need to remedy that soon.
Direct from People:
“At 17, actor Lance Kerwin’s 12-hour workdays preclude so much as a steady girlfriend, much less a grand passion. But as the adolescent protagonist of NBC’s appealingly authentic James at 15, he is at present enduring the most contentious deflowering in the history of prime time. The controversial episode—scheduled for February 9—has already triggered the resignation of creator novelist Dan (Going All the Way) Wakefield and proved that, in jaundiced Burbank of all places, loss of virginity can still make the earth move.”
People Quote continued:
“Actor Kerwin’s attitude is that James’ sexual initiation ‘is about time.’ He further grumbles that ‘no one wants to listen to what I have to say about James. I’ve been told that I’m too far removed from the reality of teenage life now that I’m in a series. How can I be in a vacuum and the adults who write and produce the series in the thick of things? They’re not exactly teenagers themselves.’ (Lance obviously feels strongly on the subject, but when the delicate subject of his own experience in country matters is posed, NBC answers for him: ‘No comment.’)
Still, hardly anyone can doubt the maturity of an actor who by his own 16th birthday was spending more time with The Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman (in guest roles) than with girls his own age. ‘The kid is the best, really fantastic,’ admires Wakefield. Although Kerwin’s role as a naive Holden Caulfield type who moves from Oregon to Boston requires him to be on camera almost continuously, Lance dismisses the burden as ‘not a bad thing for a young actor.’”
You can read the entire article if you so desire. What’s Kerwin up to these days? Apparently he’s a pastor and lives in Kaua’i, Hawai’i. I’ll leave you with another fine ad from the issue.