You are never too old to start a new career

Kathryn Joosten

Kathryn Joosten

Joosten in May 2011
Born Kathryn Rausch
December 20, 1939
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.[1]
Died June 2, 2012 (aged 72)
Westlake Village, California, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer
Occupation Actress
Years active 1982–2012
Known for Karen McCluskey,
Dolores Landingham
Television Desperate Housewives,
The West Wing
Children 2 sons
Awards Emmy Awards (2005, 2008)

Kathryn Joosten (December 20, 1939 – June 2, 2012)[2] was an American televisionactress best known for her regular role as Karen McCluskey in Desperate Housewives, for which she won two Emmy Awards, and for her recurring role in The West Wing as Dolores Landingham.



[edit]Early life

Joosten was born Kathryn Rausch in ChicagoIllinois.[1][3] Her first career was as a psychiatric nurse at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, living in nearby Lake Forest, Illinois, where she married a psychiatrist and raised two sons. Following her 1980 divorce,[3] she began acting in community theater in 1982, at age 42.[4]


In 1992, she was hired as a street performer working for Disney World in Orlando, Florida. In 1995, she moved to Hollywood, where she took guest roles in such television series asRoseanneHome ImprovementPicket FencesMurphy BrownERSeinfeldFrasierJust Shoot Me!Buffy the Vampire SlayerDharma & GregLas Vegas and The Drew Carey Show. In the 1997 episode of Frasier, ‘Roz’s Turn’, Joosten appeared as Vera, the mother and personal secretary of Frasier’s conniving agent, Bebe Glazer, played by Harriet Sansom Harris. The pair would later be reunited to play opposite neighbors in Desperate Housewives.

In 1999, Joosten took the role of Mrs. Landingham, personal secretary to President Josiah Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen) in The West Wing. Joosten played the role for two seasons, until her character’s death in a car crash in 2001, and returned to the show twice more in flashback appearances. Her role on The West Wing gave her an entrance into more significant guest roles on notable television series.

Since 2001, she appeared in such shows as Scrubs (appearing in “My Old Lady“, which won a Humanitas Prize as well as reappearing in two later episodes), My Name is EarlSpin CityThe X-FilesJudging AmyMonk,CharmedWill & GraceMalcolm in the MiddleGrey’s AnatomyThe Suite Life of Zack & CodyRebaSo Little TimeGilmore Girls,The Closer and a recurring role as one of the less intimidating incarnations of God seen by the title character (played by Amber Tamblyn) on the TV series Joan of Arcadia. In 2005, Joosten appeared in the film Wedding Crashers, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.

Joosten had a recurring role on Desperate Housewives as Karen McCluskey. For this role, Joosten won two Emmy Awards forOutstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005 and 2008 and once again was nominated for 2010, and appeared as a presenter at the 2005 and 2008 Emmy Awards telecasts. She received Screen Actors Guild Award nominations with the rest of the cast for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series from 2006–2008. She was promoted to a member of the regular cast in Season 6. However, the Emmys still billed her as a “Guest Actress” when she was nominated for a third time for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for the 2010 Emmys. She was then nominated for a fourth Emmy, this time for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2012. She played Aunt Jackie in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel in 2009.

Joosten at the 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony

In 2009, Joosten and Lily Tomlin were in talks to star in a Desperate Housewives spin-off.[5] The spin-off was given a preliminary green light to proceed.[6] However, the series did not proceed.


Joosten appeared in numerous television commercials such as those for V8 and Fiber One. In 2007, in an appearance on The View, she revealed that she was in remission from lung cancer, after many years of chain smoking (which she subsequently quit). She offered some tips on how to beat the habit of smoking. Coincidentally, her guest roles on My Name is Earl and Grey’s Anatomy revolved largely around her character attempting to quit smoking. In 2001, she quit her 45-year smoking habit when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.[7] In September 2009, Joosten was diagnosed with lung cancer for a second time. She subsequently underwent surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy, and was found to be cancer-free in January 2010.

Joosten made a guest appearance on The Bold and the Beautiful on February 7, 2011, as part of the show’s 6000th episode, which featured several other real-life lung cancer survivors discussing their experiences with two of the show’s characters, played by Susan Flannery andJack Wagner, who were dealing with lung cancer.[8]

Joosten was named the national spokesperson for the Lung Cancer Profiles campaign on behalf of Pfizer.[9]


Joosten died of lung cancer on the morning of June 2, 2012, after an 11-year battle with the disease. Coincidentally, her death occurred twenty days after the onscreen death from cancer of her Desperate Housewives character, Karen McCluskey.[2]

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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