Stewart Petersen: Mormon Actor
Stewart Petersen is a former actor known for his starring roles in a series of family friendly movies made during the mid-1970s, including Where the Red Fern Grows, Against a Crooked Sky, Seven Alone, and Pony Express Rider. He appeared in the ABC After School Special “The Skating Rink” and the made-for-TV movie “Rivals,” (also known as “The Stranger at Jefferson High”). He also played young Joseph Smith in The First Vision (1976), made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he is a member.
His acting roles in the movie industry were coincidental. He was in his uncle’s home (Lyman Dayton) when they were doing a script reading with a different boy. His uncle, the producer of the film, invited Petersen to also read. He then invited him to fly to California to read for the director, and Petersen grabbed the chance only because he had never been on an airplane before. When the role was between him and two other boys, he wanted to win only because of his competitive nature. He was age thirteen at the time.
Petersen was born on April 16, 1960, in Cokeville, Wyoming, where he grew up. He won the state wrestling championship in his weight division his senior year. He served as a full-time missionary in The Netherlands, and studied at both Ricks College and Brigham Young University.
He and his wife, Chemene, are the parents of six children and live in Cokeville, Wyoming. Never wanting to be famous, he basically retired from acting in 1978. “I never did enjoy the public relations aspect of the movie industry.” He appeared in a made-for-TV movie that was released in 1981 and later returned to acting briefly as an adult for a role in a film produced for the LDS Church. He co-owns and runs Magic Mountain Outfitters, a rustic pack and guide company.