Margaret Whitton, best known for playing the spiteful owner of the Cleveland Indians in the Major League movies, has passed away at 67. Hollywood mourns the loss of one of the ‘80s most memorable actresses who proved her talent both in front of and behind the camera.
Born in Fort Meade, Maryland, Whitton’s career began on the New York stage where she appeared in off-Broadway gems, being billed as Peggy Whitton, and working as a dog walker between parts. However, Whitton garnered attention when she made her Broadway debut in the early 1980s in Nell Dunn’s comedic play Steaming.
Transitioning to the big screen, Whitton had a number of memorable roles with her most visible including Love Child, The Best of Times alongside Robin Williams and Kurt Russell, and her breakout role in The Secret of My Succe$s starring Michael J. Fox.
However, Whitton solidified her place in pop culture with her role playing Rachel Phelps, a Vegas showgirl turned ruthless owner of a failing Cleveland Indians franchise in the 1989 comedy Major League and its sequel. Whitton also had an impressive television career, appearing most notably in the soap operas One Life to Live and The Doctors, as well as A Fine Romance and Good & Evil.
With her success in film, Whitton didn’t dismiss her origins on stage, returning to Broadway in And the Apple Doesn’t Fall… in 1995 and the award-winning musical Marlene in 1999. Later in her career, Whitton made a name for herself as a theater director with credits including Marina Carr’s Portia Coughlin and By the Bog of Cats.
Margaret Whitton died on Sunday, December 4th in Palm Beach, Florida after a brief battle with cancer. Whitton had just celebrated her 67th birthday a week prior and according to her friend and producing partner, Steven Tabakin, she had been actively developing projects until a few months ago.
Whitton is survived by her second husband, Warren Spector, her sisters, Suzy Liss and Mary Beth Whitton, and her brothers, James and John Whitton. A memorial service for the late actress is planned to take place in New York City in early 2017.