LIFF Honorees


Kathryn Joosten

Kathryn Joosten best known as the crotchety but lovable Karen McCluskey on “Desperate Housewives” and the president’s secretary on “The West Wing” won two Emmy awards for her portrayal of Mrs. McCluskey keeping an eye on her Wisteria Lane Neighbors `on “Desperate Housewives”.

In real life Kathy was a psychiatric nurse and a single mother in Suburban Chicago when she began her acting career at 42. She received her first break as a street performer at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Kathy served as fellow Governor with Conrad Bachmann at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for a period of eight years. Kathy was a very popular member of Louisville’s International Festival of Film and served since the beginning on the board of advisors representing the festival in Hollywood with her friends and celebrities.

Her favorite spot in Louisville is the fish bar in Al J’s bar at the Galt House. The festival will miss Ms. Joosten her in the future years.


Julian “Buck” Wheat

Julian “Buck” Wheat, who was a revered figure at Churchill Downs after spending more than six decades working and playing in various capacities there, died Wednesday afternoon at University Hospital following a Tuesday fall at his Louisville home. He was 78.

Wheat began working at Churchill in 1949 while still in high school before branching out into other racing-related endeavors, including training, while entrenching himself at Churchill and raising a family in Louisville. He ultimately endeared himself to countless numbers of horsemen, both regulars and visitors, as the director of horsemen’s relations for Churchill, earning the unofficial title of “mayor of the backstretch.”

Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert, who befriended Wheat in the early 1990’s, said Wednesday from California that “everybody loved Buck. He was a huge part of the Kentucky Derby experience. Whatever you needed, that was Buck, that was his main thing. We got to be really good friends over the years. It really won’t be the same going back there without Buck Wheat.
Maybe there should be a little statue on the grounds there for him. He really was an icon there. He was one of the few people in racing that you never heard anybody say one bad thing about him.”

Wheat was honored in numerous ways by horsemen’s groups and other industry organizations, including the 2001 Dominion Award from Dogwood Stable for meritorious service of the racing industry.