As she received an Outstanding Learning-Disabled Achiever Award from the Lab School of Washington, actress Margaret Whitton, who starred as the neglected wife in the film "The Secret of My Success," revealed one of her own secrets for success last night. "I'm reminded of what my hero Don Mattingly {the New York Yankees' first baseman} says: 'I just want to play every day in spite of small nagging injuries.' "

Whitton was one of six people honored at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in ceremonies emceed by Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner, who received one of the school's awards in 1985. This year's other winners were Marina Bulgari, renowned jewelry designer; Chuck Close, photorealist painter; Richard Cohen, Washington Post columnist; Mark Torrance, president of Muzak; and Roger Wilkins, Pulitzer Prize-winner journalist and former assistant attorney general. The Lab School, located on Reservoir Road NW, has for 20 years pioneered educational programs for intelligent learning-disabled students. The Achiever Awards, which began three years ago, are given to "those who, although learning-disabled, have become leaders in their own fields," and whose accomplishments have given inspiration to others who are learning-disabled. Previous winners also include actors Harry Anderson, Cher and Tom Cruise, Olympic diving gold medalist Greg Louganis and artist Robert Rauschenberg.

Out and About

Sighted at the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday: Former secretary of agriculture John Block sitting there in his running clothes at Key Bridge, at about the nine-mile mark, as the vast throng of runners trotted by. Many of them, some his former employes, shouted out "Hi, Mr. Secretary" as they ran. Block -- a competitive runner himself -- raised his fist and shouted back encouragement ...

Television journalist David Brinkley is this year's winner of the National Press Club's Fourth Estate Award for lifetime journalistic achievement. Although broadcasters have never been heavily represented in the club, the first award 15 years ago went to Walter Cronkite. Last year's went to columnist Art Buchwald, and previous winners include cartoonist Herbert Block, columnists Richard Strout and James Reston and White House reporter Helen Thomas. Tributes to Brinkley at the Dec. 9 black-tie awards dinner will come from columnist George Will, former Democratic National Committee chairman Robert Strauss and White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker ...

Toni Morrison, whose latest novel, "Beloved," is high on the best-seller lists, will begin teaching at Princeton University in 1989. Morrison, whose books, including "Tar Baby," "The Bluest Eye" and "Song of Solomon," have been translated into 14 languages, will take up a recently endowed professorship on the university's Humanities Council. She will teach creative writing and may participate in programs in Afro-American, American and women's studies. Other writers on the council include Joyce Carol Oates, John McPhee and Mona Simpson ...

There's always money to be found in someone's disaster. Berkley Books is counting on an instant book to benefit from the recent stock market crisis. Some 600,000 copies of "Wall Street," a novelization of the screenplay of the upcoming 20th Century Fox film by Oliver Stone and Stanley Weiser, have been rushed into print to take advantage of all the recent stock market news. The plot of both film and book revolves around a man who is lured by money and greed into insider trading. The novelization was done by former New York deputy mayor Kenneth Lipper, who is a financial expert and has been a partner at Salomon Bros. and Lehman Bros., both leading investment firms. He was also technical adviser to Stone on the movie, which is to open across the country Dec. 11. Berkley was successful with the novelization of the previous Stone movie, "Platoon," which was written by Marine Capt. Dale Dye. More than 800,000 copies were sold ...

The Tailors Council of America, unable to find a living male screen performer it considers well tailored, has chosen the late Cary Grant as this year's best-dressed actor. The council said Grant's selection "was necessitated due to the lack of any current motion picture actor who sartorially represents the motion picture industry." The group selected as best dressed in their fields Sen. Robert Dole and ABC-TV's Ted Koppel. Others honored included Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, singer Andy Williams, comedian Don Rickles and the Los Angeles Lakers' Earvin (Magic) Johnson ...