As confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter, actress Margaret Whitton—best known for playing Cleveland Indians owner Rachel Phelps in the Major League movies—has died following what a friend described as a “brief battle with cancer.” Apparently, her illness came on so suddenly that she was still developing new projects as recently as a few months ago. Whitton was 67.
Born in Philadelphia in 1950, her first acting gigs were in plays in New York. She made her Broadway debut in 1982’s Steaming, where she and Judith Ivey both appeared nude as patrons of a women’s Turkish bath. Though she had small parts in films and TV shows, her first regular acting role outside of the theater was on CBS’s short-lived drama series Hometown, which was a loose adaptation of The Big Chill.
Whitton began to get more prominent movie roles after that, appearing in 9 1/2 Weeks with Mickey Rourke, The Secret of My Success alongside Michael J. Fox, and later The Man Without A Face opposite Mel Gibson. Her most memorable roles, however, where 1989’s Major League and its 1994 sequel. Whitton’s character was a former showgirl who inherited the Indians when her husband died, and she dreamed of tanking the team and moving it to Miami. Unfortunately, her plans were thwarted when the plucky underdogs got their act together and made it to the playoffs.
In more recent years, Whitton stopped acting and moved on to directing and producing, both for films and theatrical productions. She is survived by her husband, Warren J. Spector.