I was sad to hear of the recent untimely death of character actress Kathryn Joosten.
You might not know her name, but she was one of those actors that as soon as you see their face you say "Oh, I know them!" Joosten was best recognized for her performances as Mrs. Landingham, the President's assistant on "The West Wing" and as sassy neighbor Mrs. McClusky on "Desperate Housewives" (a role for which she earned two Emmys.)
For years I've been pointing to Ms. Joosten as a shining star for anyone who feels that they are too old to pursue their dreams, or that opportunity has passed them by. You see, she did not begin her climb to prominence until well into her 50's.
A successful nurse from Chicago, by the 1970's Kathryn Joosten was married and had two children. When her husband left her in the 1980's, she had to struggle to raise her two kids alone. She did this by holding down several jobs.
Unhappy with the situation she was in, inspiration struck, and she decided - at age 42 - to pursue her dream career as an actress. Joosten packed up and moved to Orlando, Florida, where she got a job as a street performer at Walt Disney World. After three years in the Sunshine State, she moved 3,000 miles away to join the legions of hopeful actors seeking work in Hollywood.
Everyone told her that at 56 years old, with barely a whisper of a resume, the odds of building a career in film and television were a million to one or more, but Joosten had faith and a vision of success. Soon, she was booking small roles on television shows and casting directors took notice. Once they discovered her niche, she became an "overnight" sensation in her 60's.
Sadly, cancer ended Joosten's life too early. "Housewives" had ended its run (fittingly, with a dramatic and moving farewell to Mrs. McClusky) just weeks before and she would definitely have had other opportunities to shine. Her legacy has lived on, however, in an unexpected way.
Within hours of her death, social media sites like Facebook began filling with tributes to her, and fans created a page highlighting her amazing road to success, despite the naysayers. (I posted it below)
Those that had only seen her on TV were made aware of the story behind her accomplishments. Kathryn Joosten now serves as an inspiration for anyone, young or old, reaching for the brass ring.
Never, ever give up on your dreams!