RIP: Margaret Whitton, who played Cleveland’s corrupt owner in ‘Major League’, dies at 66
The losses for the Cleveland Indians keep piling up, weeks after their World Series defeat to the Chicago Cubs.
The Hollywood Reporter reports this afternoon that actress Margaret Whitton, who played Vegas-showgirl-turned-Indians-owner Rachel Phelps in the first two Major League films, has died after a brief battle with cancer. She was 66.
Born in Philadelphia and a longtime resident of Martha’s Vineyard, Whitton also appeared in 1986’s 9 1/2 Weeks with Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger, 1987’s The Secret of My Success alongside Michael J. Fox, and 1993 Mel Gibson film The Man Without a Face. In 2008 she and her husband Warren Spector formed Tashtego Films.
But it’s her role as Phelps, who in the first Major League film inherits the Indians and devises a plan to ensure their futility allows her to move the franchise to Miami (spoiler alert: they end up winning the pennant), is the work she’s best known for.
Here’s more from Hollywood Reporter:
“Born in Philadelphia and the daughter of an Army colonel, Whitton made her off-Broadway debut at the American Place Theater in 1973 alongside Olympia Dukakis in Baba Goya. She became a regular player at Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, working with directors including Arthur Penn, Max Stafford-Clark, Les Waters and Howard Davies. She appeared in several productions by The Phoenix Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club. Her Broadway performances included 1982’s Steaming opposite good friend Judith Ivey — they both appeared nude in the play, set in a women’s Turkish bath — 1996’s The Apple Doesn’t Fall… and 1999’s Marlene. In a national tour of Dracula, she fell victim to Raul Julia’s title character.
She also starred on such TV series as Good & Evil and A Fine Romance. After Whitton left acting, she turned to directing — first for the theater, with Marina Carr’s Portia Coughlan and By the Bog of Cats, and The Public Theater’s production of Dirty Tricks starring Ivey as Martha Mitchell. She made her feature-film directing debut with A Bird of the Air (2011), a romantic drama based on a Joe Coomer novel.”
A service will be held in New York City in early 2017.
The Martha’s Vineyard Times writes that those who wish to make a donation to honor Whitton are asked to contribute to two charities “that were especially close” to the actress’ heart: “The Marion Dougherty Safe Haven Fund, which supports victims of domestic violence with their pets; and the African Mission Healthcare Foundation, in support of Dr. Tom Catena, an American physician saving lives in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan in the face of genocide.”
Watch Whitten as Phelps in the Major League clip below.