Emmy winner Kathryn Joosten, whose emotional death scene as Karen McCluskey gave Desperate Housewives‘ recent series finale its biggest emotional punch, died on Friday of lung cancer in Westlake Village, CA. She was 72.
Joosten won her Emmys in 2005 and 2008 in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy for her portrayal of Wisteria Lane’s crankiest (but still loveable) resident.
Prior to her Housewives success, Joosten was best known for playing Mrs. Landingham, secretary to Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet, on The West Wing.
She also had roles on such shows as Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, Joan of Arcadia, and Dharma & Greg.
Joosten, who didn’t begin her acting career until she was 42, famously told interviewers through the years that Housewives‘ creator Marc Cherry had promised never to kill off Mrs. McCluskey, seeing how many of her prior characters hadn’t survived to their shows’ series finales.
According to her rep, Joosten was surrounded by family at the time of her death.
UPDATE: As news spread of Joosten’s passing, castmates recent and from the past, as well as peers, shared condolences via Twitter. Among them:
Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives): “Thank you Kathryn. For your courage, your humor, your fight and your talent. We were so lucky to have you.”
Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives): “All my prayers and love to Kathryn Joosten’s family. Rest in peace, she was an amazing woman and a wonderful actress.”
Rob Lowe (The West Wing, now of Parks and Recreation): “Goodbye Kathryn; our beloved Mrs Landingham. You will never truly be gone, film is forever. Tell Leo [played by the late John Spencer] I love him.”
Dule Hill (The West Wing, now of Psych): “Saddened about the passing of Kathryn Joosten. It was an honor to work with you and an even greater honor knowing you, Kathryn.”
Tim Matheson (The West Wing, now of Hart of Dixie): “Goodnight Mrs. Landingham, wherever you are . . . . Kathryn Joosten enriched all who knew her!”
Emmy Rossum (Shameless): “So sad to read that actress Kathryn Joosten passed away. Mrs. Landingham from The West Wing is one of my all time favorite TV characters.”
Yvette Nicole Brown (Community): “I am heartbroken by the loss of my friend. … Kathryn Joosten taught me SO much about the business. She was funny, fun & TOUGH and I loved her to pieces!”
Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory creator): “Kathryn Joosten recurred on Dharma & Greg when I worked there. She was a truly lovely lady.”
Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy creator): “Very sad about the death of Kathryn Joosten. She was on [Grey’s] in Season 1, but she’ll always be Mrs. Landingham on West Wing for me.”