Spartacus Star Andy Whitfield Dies

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Andy Whitfield, who was seen as recently as last year in Starz's Spartacus: Blood and Sand, died yesterday at the age of 39 after losing his battle with cancer, reports the Associated Press.

Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in March 2010, putting production of Spartacus' season 2 on hold. After undergoing treatment for a few months, he was deemed free of cancer and began to prepare to return to his role as the gladiator Spartacus. In an unexpected tragic turn, the cancer returned and he pulled out of the show completely.

"On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18 month battle with lymphoma cancer," Whitfield's wife Vashti told the AP in a statement. "He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have help carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was."

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht also issued a statement on behalf of the cable network: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield. We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life."

Spartacus is moving on with Australian actor Liam McIntyre taking over the role. Whitfield, who also made appearances in Packed to the Rafters and McLeod's Daughters, is survived by two children.

Such sad news. Rest in peace, Andy.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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