Kathryn Joosten (20 December, 1939 – 2 June, 2012) was an American actress best known for her television roles as Delores Landingham, secretary to President of the United States, on The West Wing (1999-2002); and as nosey neighbour Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives, from 2004-2012.
Joosten did not begin to hone her craft until middle age in the 1980s, after taking acting classes in Chicago, Illinois. She started acting at age 44.
It was not until the mid-1990s that Joosten made the move to Hollywood, where she took guest roles in television series such as 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 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 neighbours in the first season of Desperate Housewives.
In 1999, Joosten took the role as Delores Landingham, secretary to President of the United States Josiah Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen) on The West Wing. Joosten played the role for two seasons, until her character's death in a car crash in 2001. She would return to the show twice more in flashback episodes.
Joosten's role on The West Wing gave her an entrance into more significant guest roles on significant television series.
Since 2001, she has appeared on TV in such shows as Scrubs (appearing in My Old Lady, which won a Humanitas Prize as well as reappearing in a later episode), 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 and Cody, 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 Joan of Arcadia.
In 2005, Joosten appeared in the film Wedding Crashers, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
Joosten also has appeared in numerous episodes of Desperate Housewives as Karen McCluskey, Lynette Scavo's (Felicity Huffman) bickering neighbour.
For this role, Joosten won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005 and 2008, and appeared as a presenter at the 2005 and 2008 Emmy Awards telecasts. She also received 2006 and 2007 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations with the rest of the cast for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
In 2007, in an appearance on The View, she revealed that she was a lung cancer survivor, after many years of smoking (which she subsequently quit), and gave some tricks for trying to beat the habit of smoking.
In September 2009, Joosten was diagnosed with lung cancer for a second time. She subsequently underwent surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy, and was officially declared cancer-free in January 2010.
Joosten died of lung cancer on the morning of 2 June, 2012. She was 72.