Vale: Kathryn Joosten

Character actress Kathryn Joosten, best known as the irascible neighbour “Karen McCluskey” on Desperate Housewives, has died, aged 72.

Joosten passed away following a battle with lung cancer with her family at her side at home northwest of Los Angeles. She had battled the disease since being diagnosed in 2001 and again in 2009.

Her death follows the final season of Desperate Housewives ending in the US just three weeks ago, in which her character also battled lung cancer.

As an advocate for lung-cancer awareness and research, she had agreed to a storyline that mirrored her off-screen life.

“This will allow the public to much more comfortably talk about lung cancer,” she told the New York Post in February.

The most challenging aspect of story arc was “working with the producers to make sure the material was true and accurate. They have been wonderful about that.

She had previously called herself a “two-time lung cancer survivor” having been diagnosed in 2001 and again in 2009.

“So far, I am a cancer survivor, but cancer will be with me for the rest of my life, be it as a nodule, tumor or cell someplace, or in my fears and anxieties,” she wrote. “Therefore I’ve decided that I am ‘living with cancer.'”

In addition to her memorable role on Desperate Housewives she played the president’s secretary ‘Mrs. Landingham’ in The West Wing.

The character actress also appeared in dozens of other shows including Family Matters, Dharma & Greg, Ally McBeal, Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, Joan of Arcadia and about 20 films, including Wedding Crashers, Hostage and Bedtime Stories.

She went on to win an Emmy in 2005 and another in 2008, both for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for Desperate Housewives.

On Joosten’s passing Felicity Huffman wrote on her Twitter account: “She was an amazing woman and a wonderful actress.”

Marcia Cross ‏tweeted, “Thank you Kathryn. For your courage, your humor, your fight and your talent. We were so lucky to have you. xo xo xo”

Source: LA Times, Reuters


  1. MrsStepford

    This is sad. I was watching DH last week, when Kathyrn’s character Karen was trying to get Bree to euthanasie her. Very funny – but I did notice that she didn’t look very well. What a wonderful career.

  2. “She was a real dame, old friend, a real broad.”
    Watched Two Cathedrals in honour of her. Mum just asked recently whether she was sick due to the Desperate Housewives storyline. Going to be very bittersweet watching the rest of the season.

  3. This is sad news – wasn’t there talk at one stage of Mrs McCluskey getting a spin off form Housewives with her sister (Lily Tomlin)???

    That would have been an awesome show.

  4. toriwannabe

    With my own mother being diagnosed with lung cancer, this is doubly sad news. You hope when you are a ‘survivor’ that it means forever, but sadly for many, it doesn’t.

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