Childhood & Early Life
Kathryn Joosten was born Kathryn Rausch on December 20, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She was of Dutch-German heritage.
After graduating, she started working as a psychiatric nurse for troubled teenagers. She also fell in love with and married a psychiatrist. But her husband’s alcoholism led to their divorce.
After her divorce, Kathryn Joosten was a single mother and she supported her family by hanging wallpaper and paintings at mansions in Lake Forest. She also worked as a salesperson for the ‘Welcome Wagon’ company.
Simultaneously, she also started taking classes at the ‘Steppenwolf Theater’, Chicago. She then started performing at community theaters in 1982 at the age of 42. She eventually graduated to semi-professional theater.
In 1984, she had a small role in the movie ‘Grandview, U.S.A.’. She followed that up with similar guest roles in TV series like ‘Lady Blue’ (1985), ‘Sable’ (1987), and the movie ‘The Package’ (1989). However, these were insubstantial roles and far too rare.
She received her first big break after auditioning at ‘Disney World’, Orlando, Florida, in 1992. She was hired as a street performer. Unfortunately, the gig ended after a year and she had to do odd-jobs to support her family.
In December 1995, Kathryn Joosten moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. She made her Hollywood debut in the TV series ‘Family Matters’ (1995).
In 1996, Joosten guest-starred in several popular TV shows including ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’, ‘ER’, ‘Roseanne’, ‘Murphy Brown’, etc.
1997 was even busier for Kathryn Joosten. She appeared in top-rated shows like ‘Seinfeld’, ‘Frasier’, ‘NYPD Blue’, etc. Her ability to pull off dramatic characters and showcase her comedic timing made her a bankable TV star.
She also portrayed different characters on ‘The Drew Carey Show’ (1998–2003). Joosten landed her first recurring role of Claire in the sitcom ‘Dharma and Gregg’ (1998– 2001).
Kathryn landed her first major role as a series regular in ‘The West Wing’ (1999–2002). She portrayed the character of Dolores Landingham and was part of the series until her character’s death in season 2.
In the next few years, she became a familiar face on TV. She was seen in episodes of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (2000) and ‘Ally McBeal’ & ‘The X-Files’ in 2001. Her most noteworthy recurring roles were in ‘General Hospital’ (2002 – 2003), ‘Joan of Arcadia’ (2003 – 2005), and ‘Monk’ (2003 – 2008).
In 2004, she co-starred in the movie ‘Breaking Dawn’. Kathryn Joosten followed that up with two more hit movies in ‘Cheaper by the Dozen 2’ (2005) and ‘Wedding Crashers’ (2005).
In 2005, she was cast in the lead recurring role of Karen McCluskey in the drama series ‘Desperate Housewives’. She played the character until the series finale in 2012 when Karen dies of cancer. It reflected her real-life battle with cancer.
From 2006 until 2008, she was seen in shows like ‘The Evidence’, ‘The Closer’, and ‘Las Vegas’etc. She also played Aunt Jackie in the blockbuster ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel’ (2009).
Failing health due to cancer restricted her appearances in TV shows at the end of her career. She was still seen in ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ (2011), the movie ‘Mega Python vs. Gatoroid’ (2011), and ‘The Mentalist’ (2012).
Family & Personal Life
Kathryn was married to George Joosten until their divorce in 1980. She has two children, sons Jonathan and Timothy Joosten.
In 2001, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and she quit smoking. In 2009 she was diagnosed with lung cancer for thE second time. In January 2010, after chemotherapy and surgery, Joosten was declared cancer-free. However, the cancer returned. Kathryn Joosten passed away on June 2, 2012, in Westlake Village, California, USA.