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June 3, 2012 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Kathryn Joosten, Emmy award winning actress who played Mrs. Landingham, has died.

Formerly a psychiatric nurse at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Kathryn Joosten began her acting career at age 42. After moving to Hollywood, she accumulated an impressive array of roles, including an evil headmistress on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Agent Edie Boal on The X-Files, and God on Joan of Arcadia. She's appeared on Scrubs, 3rd Rock From The Sun, ER, Roseanne, Murphy Brown, Dharma and Greg, General Hospital, Charmed, Gilmore Girls, and in various theatrical productions. ("When I told one of my sons that I was going to play a crazy bag lady, he said, 'And yet another part that she doesn't have to act in.'")

She was best known for her roles asMrs. Landingham on the West Wing, and Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives.

For the past few years, she helped raise awareness about lung cancer.

She will be missed.
posted by MrVisible (38 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:47 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I'm not mistaken she was also the warden at the women's prison when George dates an inmate in Seinfeld.

posted by evilcolonel at 7:50 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by limeonaire at 8:04 AM on June 3, 2012

One of those character-actor faces that populate an amazing number of shows and movies and are always just damned good at it. Will be missed.

posted by Thorzdad at 8:14 AM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by PaulZ at 8:40 AM on June 3, 2012


posted by tzikeh at 8:56 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by easily confused at 8:56 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by Smart Dalek at 9:07 AM on June 3, 2012

Aw jeez, she was amazing on West Wing.

posted by Skorgu at 9:31 AM on June 3, 2012

She was also on Scrubs

So cool that she'd been trained as a nurse.

posted by discopolo at 9:33 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:49 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by verbyournouns at 10:09 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by brundlefly at 10:13 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by hydropsyche at 10:32 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by dpx.mfx at 10:36 AM on June 3, 2012

I think this requires me to rewatch the West Wing episode where Mrs. Landingham dies.
posted by Karmeliet at 10:55 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by rtha at 11:05 AM on June 3, 2012

posted by wrapper at 11:06 AM on June 3, 2012

Awww, Mrs. Landingod.

I saw this the other week and feel the need to repost. From "Five Famous People Who Succeeded Long After They Should've Quit:"

"In 1995, Kathryn Joosten moved in with a family member in Los Angeles because she wanted to make it in Hollywood. Like most girls following the same hopeless dream, she had no agent, no contacts and close to nothing on her resume. Seems like a pretty typical story.
The Rock Bottom Moment:
Unlike most girls, however, Joosten was 56. The family member was her son.
In the '60s and '70s, Joosten had a promising career as a nurse in Chicago, but she gave it up after getting married. Her husband was a psychiatrist and did pretty well -- he was also, however, a deadbeat alcoholic. Ten years later, they divorced. Joosten found herself a 40-something single mother with two kids and three jobs, struggling to make ends meet. So, she did the sensible thing and decided to drop everything to become an actress.
Now, here's where our story gets inspirational, right? Hell, no! Joosten started auditioning for parts and ... nothing happened. And then, more nothing. For several years. In the meantime, she supported her family by hanging wallpaper and painting houses, among other gigs. In 1992, she was finally cast by Disney in her first important role: "Streetmosphere" performer in the Orlando theme park.
She stayed in that city for three years -- the job lasted for one. By 1995, she had decided to try her luck in L.A., even if it meant moving in with her son.
The Success:
And then Urkel changed everything. A spot in Family Matters saying two lines with Jaleel White landed Joosten an agent who evidently marketed the shit out of her sassy older woman image. Soon she got herself guest parts in pretty much every sitcom made in the following decade, from Seinfeld to Frasier to Will & Grace to Scrubs. If you watch TV at all, you've probably seen her face at least a couple dozen times.

Kathryn Joosten has won two Emmys for that Desperate Housewives role, and it's all because of her uncanny perseverance. And Urkel."

Inspiration for us all, man.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

It was hard enough when she died the first time on Scrubs. :(
posted by Talez at 11:19 AM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

The weird thing is, I thought she had died last year from cancer? Anyway, she was a fantastic character actress (the best kind IMO) and will be missed.

posted by 1000monkeys at 11:19 AM on June 3, 2012

Last words from Mrs. Landingham: "If you don't want to run, I respect that but if you don't run because you think it'll be too hard or you think you're going to lose, well God, Jed, I don't even want to know you."
posted by Anitanola at 11:28 AM on June 3, 2012 [8 favorites]

posted by jburka at 11:51 AM on June 3, 2012

One of my favorite character actresses of all time, and her real life experience is just inspirational.
posted by PapaLobo at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by 221bbs at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2012

Though we both know Kathryn Joosten's name and admire her work, my husband's first words to me this morning were a somber "Missus Landingham died." Then we gathered 'round the laptop and watched her revisiting President Bartlet to chastise and encourage him one more time.

Thank you, Kathryn Joosten, for such indelible characters and for such an example of how to pursue one's dream. I'll remember that.

posted by Elsa at 12:01 PM on June 3, 2012

Her characters' deaths on television have been so powerful that I have always been a little shocked to see her in anything subsequently. Requiescat in pace.
posted by obloquy at 12:28 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ms. Joosten was a fine character actor, and I particularly enjoyed seeing her on "The West Wing". She and Martin Sheen had such great chemistry together in their brief scenes, and the excerpt linked above by furiousxgeorge, in which Mrs. Landingham's ghost displays characteristic bluntness during a talk with President Bartlet, still gets me even today.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:41 PM on June 3, 2012

posted by lucien_reeve at 12:53 PM on June 3, 2012

posted by ppl at 1:10 PM on June 3, 2012

It was hard enough when she died the first time on Scrubs. :(

Um...or that time she died on The West Wing? Ouch!
posted by NedKoppel at 1:40 PM on June 3, 2012

posted by Skybly at 2:20 PM on June 3, 2012

posted by asciident at 4:59 PM on June 3, 2012

:(...You get Hoynes.
posted by Kwine at 7:02 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

There were numerous deaths on The West Wing, but Mrs. Landingham's will always be the one people think of, partly because it was when the show was at its sharpest and the event felt less like a ratings contrivance than a simple gut-punch, and partially because of the other characters' reactions to it, but mostly because Joosten created such an indelible character which just felt like she should have been ageless and immortal. Her "last words" anitanola quotes above are actually from Bartlett's projection of her chastising him, but among her actual last words is something almost as good. "Caesar's wife must be above reproach."

These words come during the time when the Bartlett administration is trying to deal with a massive cover-up, and how to spin it, and she's just bought a new car for the first time in her life and paid sticker price because she didn't want to run afoul of any regulations governing gifts to federal employees.

God, Joosten was good.

posted by Navelgazer at 9:39 PM on June 3, 2012

posted by gomichild at 1:12 AM on June 4, 2012

posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:38 AM on June 4, 2012

David Eggers writes in "A Heartbreaking Work" of seeing her wallpaper rooms in his house when he was a child before she got regular acting work.
posted by John Shaft at 8:57 PM on June 4, 2012

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