Kathryn Joosten of ‘Desperate Housewives’ dies at 72

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Actress Kathryn Joosten, best known as the cranky neighbor on ‘Desperate Housewives,’ died Saturday of lung cancer at her Westlake Village home, her daughter-in-law, Jeremy Joosten, told The Times. She was 72.

Joosten won two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Mrs. McCluskey, the cranky but lovable senior who kept a close eye on her Wisteria Lane neighbors on ‘Desperate Housewives.’ The hit show ended its 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.

She also appeared on NBC’s ‘The West Wing’ as Mrs. Landingham, the president’s trusted secretary. Over the years, she had roles in a number of other popular shows, including a recurring one on ‘Dharma & Greg’ and guest spots on shows including ‘Ally McBeal’ and ‘Scrubs.’

Last year, she also appeared in a production of Tracy Letts’ ‘Superior Donuts’ at the Geffen Playhouse.


‘I am a two-time lung cancer survivor,’ Joosten wrote in a first-person story about the disease for The Times in 2011. ‘My first was in 2001 and my second was in 2009, two completely different lung cancers, one on each side. I am the only ‘celebrity’ to be public about my lung cancer.

‘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. Therefore I’ve decided that I am ‘living with cancer.’ ‘

Active in animal rights causes, she appeared with other celebrities at a 2008 news conference in Los Angeles to ask the city to abandon a project for a $40-million elephant enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Joosten is survived by her brother, Henry Jay Rausch; two sons, Jonathan and Timothy; and two grandsons. The family said in a statement that it would hold a private service at her home and there would be a memorial service soon.


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-- From Times staff and the Associated Press