Double Tribute

Posted: Sunday, June 03, 2012 by Travis Cody in

Two losses caught my eye this weekend.  I'd like to remember them both.

Kathryn Joosten (20 December 1939 - 2 June 2012) died on Friday from lung cancer.  She was 72.

The name may be unfamiliar, but you may recognize the face.  Most recently she was seen as Mrs. McKluskey on Desperate Housewives, but I didn't watch that program.

I'll always remember her from The West Wing.  As Mrs Landingham, she had no issue speaking plainly to Martin Sheen's President Josiah Bartlett.  Of the many smart quotes she fired off, I think my favorite comes during The Two Cathedrals episode.

The secret of the president's multiple sclerosis has been uncovered and Bartlett is wrestling with whether he can successfully run for re-election after withholding that information during his first term.  Mrs Landingham purchases her first new car, and is killed by a drunk driver while leaving the dealership, stunning the president and his staff...and anyone watching the program.

After the funeral, President Bartlett has what I consider to be one of the best monologues ever presented on a TV show.  Then he returns to the White House and has a short dialog with the spirit of Mrs Landingham.  She says to him, "God doesn't make cars crash and you know it.  Stop using me as an excuse."

Then she says, "You know, if you don't want to run again, I respect that.  But if you don't run because you think it's gonna be too hard or you think you're gonna lose, well, God, Jed, I don't even want to know you."

Rest Ms Joosten.  You brought to life a beloved character for me in my favorite show of all time.  Thank you for that.

Richard Dawson (30 November 1932 - 2 June 2012) died from complicates related to esophageal cancer.  He was 79.

Many of you might remember Mr Dawson from his work as host of the game show Family Feud.  I used to watch it because he had such an engaging personality.

Many more may remember him from his role as Corporal Peter Newkirk on the 1960s sitcom Hogan's Heroes.  I watched the show as a kid and anytime I could catch it in syndicated reruns.  Newkirk was always my favorite character.  Mr Dawson proved particularly adept with accents.

But I remember him for a couple of other roles as well.  After my folks divorced and it was just me, my sister, and my mom, we latched onto a particular game show called Match Game.  It was hosted by Gene Rayburn and had a revolving panel of 6 celebrities who would write down answers on little cards to try and match what the contestants would answer to questions.  Some of the questions were so wacky...and the celebrities were so silly.  I also got an early introduction to double entendre.

The show made us laugh.  Celebrity panelists included the likes of Fanny Flagg, Charles Nelson Riley, and Brett Somers, who became regulars.  But our favorite was always Richard Dawson.  He so often matched what the contestants said, and he was so often the one they chose for the final match when the "big money" was at stake.

Richard Dawson was an actor before he was a game show celebrity.  He's got 28 film and TV credits, both in the states and Britain.  You may recall him from The Running Man movie, but I remember him in the 1968 war film The Devil's Brigade.  He played Scottish Private Hugh MacDonald. 

Rest Mr Dawson.  Your TV charm gave my little family something to enjoy together during a difficult period of adjustment to changing circumstances.  Thank you for that.


  1. Cherie says:

    I had heard about Kathryn Joosten but not Richard Dawson. It's a sad day. A friend of mine is here from Nigeria. Between the church bombing and a plane crash killing over 150 people today, my heart is especially heavy.

  1. Lana told me about Richard Dawson today. I always liked him. Sorry to hear of his death. I didn't really remember the other lady, not having watched West Wing or Desperate housewifes.

  1. Two bright stars. They will be missed.

  1. Linda says:

    A lovely tribute to two fine actors who brought life to the small screen in so many wonderful ways. I never watched the West Wing but my dispatch partner on Sundays was a big desperate housewives fan so I am quite familiar with the role of Karen McKluskey. The show had actually worked her battle with lung cancer into the storyline and she died in the series finale. At the end, Kathryn did a small PSA about lung cancer.

    I will always remember Richard Dawson more from his role as Newkirk (whom I thought was quite cute!) than as the host of Family Feud. Thanks for the reminder of his times on Match Game, too! I had forgotten how often he used to be on that show!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I missed both death announcements. Thanks for sharing them. I must concur about the best monologue on a TV show. I memorized it and though I don't smoke, loved the defiant stomp of the cig stub when the monologue finished. It was a sad day in the series when Kathryn's character was killed in her new car. RIP Kathryn and Richard.

  1. The episode where Mrs. Landingham died actually had me tearing up. Ms. Joosten was one of those wonderful journeyman actors that you always recognized even when you couldn't bring the name to mind. For me Dawson was always a fond part of Hogan's Heroes.

  1. I watched Desperate Housewifes and her character on that show was just as feisty as her character on The West Wing

    Richard Dawson...always kissing those ladies...