Emmy-winning actress Kathryn Joosten has died at age 72 following a bout with pneumonia while battling lung cancer.
reports that Joosten passed away Friday in Westlake Village, Calif., surrounded by family. A source tells ET that Joosten was undergoing chemotherapy treatment throughout the taping of the final episodes of Housewives,
which led to her contracting pneumonia.
Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry told ET in a statement, "The character of Mrs. McCluskey was created for a single episode. We then cast Kathryn Joosten and she infused the part with so much feisty wit and curmudgeonly bravado, we knew we had to move her onto Wisteria Lane for the run of the series. I will forever miss her, as a co-worker and as a friend."
The actress, whose character also passed away in the Desperate Housewives season finale last month, spoke with ET at length in 2009 about her cancer battle, telling ET, "I plan on being the Ryan White of lung cancer and I say that because lung cancer today is where AIDS was in the '80s. The public's perception was you were naughty, you did it to yourself, you're going to die anyhow, so what the hell do we care?"
"I want them to know that the public has to stop treating it as though it were some invisible stepchild that can be ignored," Joosten said. "You've got to start stepping forward. Smoking is going down, down, down. You don't see people smoking in public places anymore, hardly at all. Lung cancer is going up, up, up and we're not paying any attention."
Joosten won two Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Emmys for her role as Karen McCluskey on Housewives.
Born on December 20, 1939 in Florida, the veteran character actress' dozens of additional credits include The West Wing, The Mentalist, Scrubs, The Closer, Grey's Anatomy and many, many more.