US TV actress Kathryn Joosten, best known for her roles in Desperate Housewives and The West Wing, has died.

Joosten, who was 72, died in California of lung cancer, following a battle lasting 11 years with the disease. The actress was most recognisable from her role as Karen MCCluskey on Desperate Housewives, for which she won two Emmy Awards for playing the nosey neighbour in the suburban drama. She had previously portrayed Delores Landingham, the secretary to fictional US President Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, on The West Wing. She also had recurring roles on other US TV shows including one of the recurring Gods in Joan of Arcadia and as Claire in Dharma and Greg as well as having smaller roles on My Name Is Earl and Ally MCBeal.

As her role on Desperate Housewives progressed she began to have more say in the running of the show and encouraged the show's creator MARC CHERRY to give her character lung cancer in order to raise awareness. The show ended in the US just three weeks ago after eight years on air although the show is yet to air it's final few episodes in the UK.

Joosten, who spent many years working as a psychiatric nurse, kicked off her career as an actor at the ripe old age of 42. She is survived by her two sons; Jonathan and Timothy.