Margaret Whitton Dies: ‘Major League’ Actress & Producer-Director Was 67

Paramount Pictures

UPDATE Tuesday morning with more details.

Margaret Whitton, the actress, director and producer who is probably best know for playing the money-grubbing owner of the Cleveland Indians in two Major League movies, died December 4 at home in Palm Beach, Florida after a battle with cancer. She was 67.

Her death was confirmed to Deadline by her business partner Steven Tabakin.

Her film credits include The Secret Of My Success, 9 1/2 Weeks and Mel Gibson’s Man Without A Face. She began her career on the stage, with credits there including as director of the Public Theater’s production of Dirty Tricks, starring Judith Ivey as Martha Mitchell. She made her directorial debut with 2011’s A Bird On The Air, a Robert Towne adaptation of Joe Coomer’s novel.

Whitton was a highly regarded stage actress whose most notable performance on Broadway was as part of the memorable ensemble in Nell Dunn’s 1983 Steaming. The cast included Linda Thorson, Judith Ivey, Lisa Jane Persky, Polly Rowles and Pauline Flanagan, in addition to Whitton. She made her off-Broadway debut at the American Place Theater in 1973 alongside Olympia Dukakis in Steve Tesich’s Baba Goya. She also was a regular at the Public Theater, where she was seen in Wallace Shawn’s 1985 Aunt Dan and Lemon, and Tina Howe’s 1980 The Art Of Dining, as well as in the classics, including Henry IV, Pt. 1, Othello and The Merry Wives Of Windsor.

Whitton most recently was a partner with Tabakin in Tashtego Films, a New York-based film, TV and new media production company. She was an associate producer of the documentary Been Rich All My Life and co-exec producer of Casting By, a 2012 docu on casting directors.

In the Major League movies she played Rachel Phelps the Vegas dancer-turned-baseball owner who inherited the team from her late husband tried to make them awful enough to relocate them to warmer Miami. The 1989 original movie starred Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert and Rene Russo and is considered one of the best baseball movies of all time. There was a 1994 sequel.

Whitton’s bio on the Tashtego website says she wrote about baseball for publications including the New York Times, The Village Voice, New York Newsday and The National. She is survived by her husband, former Public Theater board chairman Warren Spector.

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