The 72-year-old actress died on Saturday (02Jun12), surrounded by family members, at her home in Westlake Village, California.
A family statement announcing the death of the two-time Emmy Award winner reads: "The family of Kathryn Joosten... long-time Governor of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, lung cancer advocate, and so much more, regrets to announce that Kathryn succumbed to her 11-year battle with lung cancer today, June 2, 2012, surrounded by love and humor til the end.
"Thanks to everyone for their love and support. We are laughing through our tears. We love you, Kathy, thanks for everything."
Joosten began her career as a nurse in her native Chicago, Illinois and turned to acting in her early 40s, winning acclaim on TV and onstage in a series of roles.
She is perhaps best known for two TV performances - as the President's secretary Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing and as meddling neighbour Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives.
Joosten won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2005 and 2008 for her role in Desperate Housewives. Ironically, her character lost her lung cancer battle in the series finale, which aired in America last month (May12).
Her other TV credits include Dharma & Greg, Monk, Joan of Arcadia, Las Vegas, The Closer, My Name Is Earl, Grey’s Anatomy, Ally McBeal and Scrubs. She also appeared in the movies Bedtime Stories, Wedding Crashers and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
Joosten was also a two-time lung cancer survivor, and she became the national spokesperson for Pfizer’s Lung Cancer Profiles Campaign.
Joosten's Desperate Housewives co-star Felicity Huffman took to Twitter.com to pay her respects on Saturday night, writing, "Rest in peace, she was an amazing woman and a wonderful actress."
She is survived by her two sons, Jonathan and Timothy. The family will hold a private service and there will be a memorial service announced in the near future.