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Remembering Cleveland's Michael Heaton

Journalist and author Michael Heaton [Photo Credit Laura Wimbels]
Journalist and author Michael Heaton [Photo Credit Laura Wimbels]

Longtime Cleveland writer Michael Heaton, known to many as the “Minister of Culture,” died this weekend at the age of 66.  Condolences and remembrances began filling social media feeds yesterday. 

Heaton wrote his weekly “Minister” column in the Plain Dealer’s Friday Magazine for three decades, his last in 2018 when he left the paper. 

He offered his unique spin on life as he, and we knew it. Or, as he put it, he wrote “entertainingly about entertainment.” He also reviewed movies, albums and rock concerts during his stint there, and wrote penetrating profiles in the paper’s former Sunday Magazine, including one on an up-and-coming young local chef -- Michael Symon.

He was dispatched on the night of 9-11 to New York City, where he’d once worked as a freelancer for People Magazine, and reported on efforts to feed first responders at Ground Zero after the towers were felled.

His father, Chuck Heaton, was a legend in Cleveland media, too, as the longtime Cleveland Browns beat writer for The Plain Dealer. And his sister, Patricia, is the actress best known for her roles in “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Middle.” He co-authored her book, “Motherhood and Hollywood.”

 Heaton also published collections of his columns, the most recent being “Truth and Justice for Fun and Profit." He talked with former “Sound of Applause” host Dee Perry in July of 2016 about that book.

- Michael Heaton, Journalist and Author, and “Minister of Culture”

- Dee Perry, Former Host of “Sound of Applause”, WCPN