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The Public Hosts Valentine's Day Memorial for Alumna Margaret Whitton


A memorial service for Margaret Whitton, longtime Public Theater actress and director, who was also a loyal and generous donor to the theater, will be held today, February 14 at 3:00 p.m. at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place).

The memorial is free and open to the public (with RSVP) and will be a resounding tribute to the life of this extraordinary actress, director, and friend.

Whitton's esteemed history with The Public Theater includes her performance as Bianca in the 1979 Shakespeare in the Park production of Othello; the 1979 production of The Art of Dining; the 1981 Shakespeare in the Park production of Henry IV Part 1; the 1982 Shakespeare in the Park production of Don Juan; the 1983 production of My Uncle Sam; the 1985 production of Aunt Dan and Lemon; the 1990 production of Ice Cream with Hot Fudge; the 1994 Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merry Wives of Windsor; the 1995 production of Silence, Cunning, Exile; and the 2004 production of Dirty Tricks, which she directed. Her additional theater credits include the Broadway productions of Marlene; The Apple Doesn't Fall...; Steaming; and Baba Goya, Three Viewings, and New England Off-Broadway.

The Library at The Public, the intimate room that serves as the home for the acclaimed restaurant and gives Public Theater patrons a chance to talk and celebrate theater, was named The Whitton-Spector Library on October 4, 2012 in honor of Whitton and former Board Chair Warren Spector. Their generous gift served as the first Board leadership commitment of the last capital campaign that contributed to the renovation of The Public's home on Lafayette Street.

"People who never met her will always know the artist. If you were fortunate enough to have the backstage pass, you know the ardent baseball fan; the voracious reader; the dog whisperer; the passionate fighter; and the astonishing horticulturist with an inexplicable eye for color and beauty," according to a statement released by Tashtego Films.

The memorial on Tuesday, February 14 at 3:00 p.m. will feature readings and personal tributes presented by some of the people who were close to Whitton over the years, including several music and dance performances, readings by actors, and video tributes about her life and career. To attend the afternoon memorial, RSVP to

Margaret Whitton, best known for her sultry performance as Rachel Phelps, the showgirl turned team owner in the Major League movie franchise, died peacefully at her home in Palm Beach on December 4, 2016, surrounded by loving friends and her beloved husband of 23 years, Warren Spector. Whitton, who film critic Pauline Kael once hailed as "a knockout," had a distinguished career in New York Theater before her many film and television roles, which eventually led her to directing and producing. Immediately recognizable for her fair complexion and striking red curls, she became known for playing the kind of multi-tasKing Strong sexy woman who can stylishly seduce, cleverly outwit, and effortlessly outmaneuver any man who crossed her path - all while landing a perfect one-liner. 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 - at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and its downtown home, The Public Theater - working with directors such as Max Stafford-Clark, Les Waters, and Howard Davies. She appeared in several productions by The Phoenix Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club. Her Broadway performances include Steaming with Judith Ivey; The Apple Doesn't Fall; and Marlene - and she was Raúl Julia's victim, Lucy, in the national tour of Dracula. Her most recognizable film roles include Aunt Vera in The Secret of My Succe$$ with Michael J. Fox; Rachel Phelps in Major League 1 & 2; Molly in 9 1⁄2 Weeks and Catherine in Man Without a Face with Mel Gibson. She also starred in television series, including "Good & Evil," opposite Teri Garr, and "A Fine Romance," among many others. When Whitton left acting, she turned to directing - first for the theater, with Marina Carr's Portia Coughlin and By the Bog of Cats, and The Public Theater's production of Dirty Tricks starring Judith Ivey as Martha Mitchell. She made her feature film directing debut with A Bird of the Air, a romantic drama based on Joe Coomer's novel, The Loop. In 2008, Whitton and Spector formed independent Production Company Tashtego Films. In addition to developing and producing A Bird of the Air, Tashtego Films has been involved in a number of notable films, includingCasting By, a feature documentary about Margaret's dear friend Marion Dougherty who revolutionized Hollywood.

Those who wish to honor Whitton are invited to contribute to two charities that were especially close to her 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.

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