Obituary: Actress Kathryn Joosten

Desperate Housewives

Kathryn Joosten (2nd from l.) with (l. to r.) Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Dana Delany and Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives.

After saving the day in the finale episodes of TV’s Desperate Housewives as Karen McCluskey this past season, actress Kathryn Joosten died Saturday, June 2, 2012, of lung cancer. She was 72.

McCluskey won Joosten two Emmy Awards, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005 and 2008, but she was also well known by fans of TV’s The West Wing as the President’s executive secretary Dolores Landingham, who convinced the Chief to run for a second term.

Joosten, who made the move to Hollywood to be an actress later in life, was celebrated by as one of “5 Famous People Who Succeeded Long After They Should’ve Quit.” After a career as a nurse, Joosten pursued acting when she was a single mother of two in her forties.

Over the years, she acted in a string of television shows, from bits parts to series regulars, including as a grocery checker on Family Matters, a waitress on Picket Fences, cleaning woman on Chicago Hope, cafeteria lady on 3rd Rock From the Sun, supermarket customer and woman in dance class on Roseanne, secretary on Murphy Brown, saleswoman on Men Behaving Badly, nurse on The Nanny, diner waitress on Tracey Takes On…, agent on The X-Files and a judge on Judging Amy.

She also was a guest on ER, Seinfeld, Fraser, NYPD Blue, Just Shoot Me!, Home Improvement, Becker, Ally McBeal, Ali$$, Spin City, The King of Queens, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Will & Grace, Grey’s Anatomy, Malcolm in the Middle, The Closer, My Name Is Earl, Monk and more recently, The Mentalist and Harry’s Law, among lots of other shows.

As well as returning roles in Desperate Housewives and The West Wing, Joosten also was a regular on General Hospital between 2002 and 2003 and played God in Joan of Arcadia.

Her movie career is much smaller than TV, but she was seen in the Vince Vaughn comedy Wedding Crashers, Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories and the family film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, among others.

Thank you, Kathryn Joosten, for all those perfectly delivered one-liners, for making us smile as God, for making us think as Dolores Landingham and for making us laugh and cry as Karen McCluskey. You’ll be missed.

About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.