Kathryn Joosten
Kathryn Joosten at the 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony
Kathryn Rausch

(1939-12-20)December 20, 1939
DiedJune 2, 2012(2012-06-02) (aged 72)
Years active1982-2012
Known forKaren McCluskey,
Dolores Landingham
TelevisionDesperate Housewives,
The West Wing
AwardsPrimetime Emmy Awards (2005, 2008)

Kathryn Joosten (born Kathryn Rausch; December 20, 1939 – June 2, 2012)[4] was an American actress. Her best known roles include Dolores Landingham on NBC's The West Wing from 1999 to 2002 and Karen McCluskey on ABC's Desperate Housewives from 2005 to 2012, for which she won two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2005 and 2008.

Early life

Joosten was born Kathryn Rausch in Chicago, Illinois to Dutch-German parents.[1][5] Her first career was as a psychiatric nurse at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago,[6] living in nearby Lake Forest, Illinois, where she married a psychiatrist and raised two sons. Following her 1980 divorce,[5] she began acting in community theater in 1982, at age 42.[7]


In 1992, aged 53, she was hired as a street performer working for the Disney-MGM Studios theme park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.[8] In 1995, she moved to Hollywood, where she took guest roles in television series such as Roseanne, Home Improvement, Picket Fences, Murphy Brown, ER, Seinfeld, Frasier, Just Shoot Me!, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dharma & Greg, Las Vegas and The Drew Carey Show. In a 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.

After 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 Earl, Spin City, The X-Files, Judging Amy, Monk, Charmed, Will & Grace, Malcolm in the Middle, Grey's Anatomy, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Reba, So Little Time, Gilmore 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 for Outstanding 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 to 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.

In 2009, Joosten and Lily Tomlin were in talks to star in a Desperate Housewives spin-off.[9] The spin-off was given a preliminary green light to proceed.[10] However, the series did not proceed.


Joosten appeared in numerous television commercials such as those for V8 and Fiber One.[11] 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 had by then 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.[12] In September 2009, Joosten was diagnosed with lung cancer for a second time.[13] She subsequently underwent surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy, and was reportedly found to be cancer-free in January 2010.[citation needed]

Joosten made a guest appearance on The Bold and the Beautiful on February 7, 2011, as part of the show's 6,000th episode, which featured several other real-life lung cancer survivors discussing their experiences with two of the show's characters, played by Susan Flannery and Jack Wagner, who were dealing with lung cancer.

Joosten was named the national spokesperson for the Lung Cancer Profiles campaign on behalf of Pfizer.[14]


Joosten died of a recurrence of lung cancer on June 2, 2012. Her death occurred "just weeks after" the onscreen death from cancer of her Desperate Housewives character, Karen McCluskey.[4]


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Grandview, U.S.A. Mrs. Clark
1985 Lady Blue Margo 1 episode
1987 Sable Waitress 1 episode
1989 The Package Waitress
1995 Pointman Lois 1 episode
Family Matters Grocery Checker 1 episode
Picket Fences Waitress
Grace Under Fire Ida Reilly 1 episode
1996 3rd Rock from the Sun Cafeteria Lady 1 episode
ER Lois 1 episode
Roseanne Carol 2 episodes
Goode Behavior Delores 1 episode
Murphy Brown Caroline Langston, Secretary #83 1 episode
Boston Common Mrs. Schuster 1 episode
1997 Seinfeld Betsy Episode: "The Little Jerry"
Frasier Vera 1 episode
Profiler Morganna Styles 1 episode
Men Behaving Badly Saleswoman 1 episode
NYPD Blue Mrs. Prows 1 episode
Life with Roger Dee-Dee Mitchell 1 episode
Brooklyn South Mariah Westbrook 2 episodes
Best Men Edie
1998 Prey Nettie 1 episode
Just Shoot Me! Dina Pierce 1 episode
The Nanny Harriet 1 episode
Phoenix Esther
1998–2003 The Drew Carey Show Natalie 2 episodes (separate roles)
1998–2001 Dharma and Greg Claire 7 episodes (recurring role)
1999 Home Improvement Thelma McCreedy 1 episode
Thanks Anne Sturges 3 episodes
Tracey Takes On... Dana 1 episode
Kiss Toledo Goodbye Inez
1999–2001 Providence Renee James O'Meara 2 episodes
1999–2002 The West Wing Dolores Landingham 30 episodes (recurring role)
2000 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Genevive Holt 1 episode
Becker Edna Goldsmith 1 episode
Hellraiser: Inferno Mary Thorne
2001 Ally McBeal Sister Alice 1 episode
Arli$$ June 1 episode
Dead Last Nurse Alicia 1 episode
Raising Dad Ella 1 episode
Spin City Sister Agnes 1 episode
2001–2009 Scrubs Barbara 'Babs' O'Neil Tanner 3 episodes: 1 uncredited
2002 The X-Files Agent Edie Boal episode: "Trust No 1"
Titus Betty 1 episode
The Division Constance 'Connie' Langtry 1 episode
So Little Time Louise Van Horn 1 episode
Even Stevens Edna Manning 1 episode
2002–2003 General Hospital Ida Warren 5 episodes
2003 Judging Amy Judge Drabowsky 1 episode
A.U.S.A. Ginny Romano 2 episodes
Wasabi Tuna Erma
Hope & Faith Jean Smith Uncredited
Charmed Marnie 1 episode
Less Than Perfect Agnes 1 episode
Strong Medicine Kathryn Nolan 1 episode
Red Roses and Petrol Nurse Gretchen
The King of Queens Maureen 1 episode
2003–2005 Joan of Arcadia Margo (incarnation of God) 8 episodes
2003–2008 Monk Neysa Gordon Stempler 2 episodes
2004 Curb Your Enthusiasm Jenny 1 episode
10-8: Officers on Duty Mrs. Utenberger 1 episode
Will & Grace Felicia 1 episode
Yes, Dear Claire Atkinson 1 episode
Life with Bonnie Phyllis 1 episode
Everwood Mrs. Hammerhill 1 episode
Gilmore Girls Maisy Fortner 1 episode
Breaking Dawn Neighbor
2005 Hostage Officer Louise
Taking Your Life Helen
Grey's Anatomy Stephanie Drake 1 episode
Love, Inc. Doris 1 episode
Wedding Crashers Chazz's Mom
Malcolm in The Middle Claire 1 episode
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Theatre Patron
2005–2008 My Name Is Earl Agatha 2 episodes
2005 McBride: It's Murder, Madam Judge Broderick 1 Episode
2005–2012 Desperate Housewives Mrs. Karen McCluskey-Bender 87 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Won; 2005, 2008, Nominated; 2010)
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (2012)
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2006, 2007, 2008)
2006 Reba Jackie Harmony, Director of Homeless Shelter 1 episode
Intellectual Property Nurse
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Grandma Marilyn 1 episode
The TV Set Lois
The Evidence Midge 1 episode
Saved Evelyn Wilson 1 episode
2007 In Case of Emergency Fran Walsh 1 episode
The Closer Nurse Townsend 1 episode
2008 Las Vegas 'Robby' 1 episode
Bedtime Stories Maureen Dixon
2009 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Aunt Jackie
2011 The Bold and the Beautiful Herself
The Cleveland Show Hazel
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid Angie Polk
2012 The Mentalist Gloria Williams 1 episode


  1. ^ a b Harrington, Nancy (May 9, 2012). "Kathryn Joosten interview (Chapter 1) - May 9, 2012". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation's Archive of American Television. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  2. ^ "Kathryn Joosten dies in Westlake Village". KPCC. Southern California Public Radio. June 2, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  3. ^ Valerie J. Nelson (June 3, 2012). "'Desperate Housewives' actress who played Mrs. McCluskey dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Kathryn Joosten, 'Desperate Housewives' actress, dead from lung cancer at 72". Today. June 2, 2012. Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Kathryn Joosten". The Daily Telegraph. June 5, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  6. ^ "In Pictures: Kathryn Joosten". Forbes. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  7. ^ "Kathryn Joosten: Official Site". Archived from the original on October 13, 2009. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  8. ^ "The Late Bloomer". Forbes. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  9. ^ Rorke, Robert (May 12, 2009). "'Wives' Spins". New York Post. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  10. ^ Rorke, Robert (May 18, 2009). "Galloping 'Girls'". New York Post. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  11. ^ "Emmy Winner Kathryn Joosten Succumbs to Lung Cancer". Television Academy. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  12. ^ Dagostino, Mark (September 14, 2009). "'Desperate Housewives' actress has lung cancer". People. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  13. ^ Joosten, Katheryn (November 7, 2011). "My Turn: Lung cancer a low-profile disease". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  14. ^ "Kathryn Joosten". MetroSeeker.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.