LOS ANGELES – Kathryn Joosten, a character actress best known as the crotchety yet loveable Karen McCluskey on “Desperate Housewives” and the president’s secretary on “The West Wing,” has died. She was 72.
Joosten, who had battled lung cancer for 11 years, died Saturday at her home in Los Angeles.
Joosten won two Emmy awards for her portrayal of Mrs. McCluskey, who kept a close eye on her Wisteria Lane neighbors on “Desperate Housewives.” The hit show ended its eight-year run on ABC last month with a series finale in which Joosten’s character passed away. Her character’s battle with cancer was a story line in the show.
Joosten was a psychiatric nurse and single mother in suburban Chicago when she began her acting career at 42.
She worked odd jobs to make ends meet and moved to Hollywood in 1995. She said she landed her first small role within months on the comedy “Family Matters.”
Over the years, she found steady work appearing in such popular shows as “Dharma & Greg,” “Ally McBeal” and “Scrubs.” She became a familiar face to fans of NBC’s “The West Wing” when she appeared as Dolores Landingham, President Jed Bartlet’s trusted secretary.