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Kathryn Joosten of 'Desperate Housewives' dies at 72

June 2, 2012 |  2:45 pm

Kathryn JoostenActress 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.


'Desperate Housewives': Full coverage

Q&A: Kathryn Joosten of 'Superior Donuts'

'Desperate Housewives' ends its run on TV

-- From Times staff and the Associated Press

Photo: Lily Tomlin, left, and Kathryn Joosten on "Desperate Housewives" in 2009. Credit: Ron Tom / ABC