LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Desperate Housewives" actress Kathryn Joosten, who won two Emmy awards for her supporting role as a nosy neighbor on the recently ended hit show, died of lung cancer on Saturday, her spokeswoman said. She was 72.
Joosten died with her family at her side at home in Westlake Village, 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles, said her publicist, Nadine Jolson. She had battled the disease since being diagnosed in 2001.
Her death came less than three weeks after the airing of the final episode of "Desperate Housewives" in which Joosten's character, Karen McCluskey, died of the illness with the Johnny Mathis song "Wonderful, Wonderful" playing in her room.
Joosten's gossipy character often butted heads and occasionally joined in schemes with the main female characters on the show, Susan, Lynette, Bree and Gabrielle.
Besides her role as the irritable but often kind-hearted McCluskey on "Desperate Housewives" - which she joined in 2005 - Joosten was known for playing the secretary to fictional U.S. President Josiah Bartlet on "The West Wing," an acclaimed drama program that ended in 2006.
Joosten's career as an actress began in middle age, after she worked as a psychiatric nurse and had been married and divorced.
She worked as a street performer at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in the early 1990s before moving on to character roles on television in "Murphy Brown," "Frasier" and "The Drew Carey Show."
Her other credits included supporting roles on the soap opera "General Hospital" and the films "Hostage" (2005) and "Bedtime Stories" (2008).
Joosten won an Emmy in 2005 and another in 2008, both for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for her work on "Desperate Housewives."
"We are laughing through our tears," her family said in a statement. She is survived by her sons, Jonathan and Timothy.
Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Greg McCune and Peter Cooney