Andy Whitfield, the hunky actor who starred in TV's Spartacus: Blood and Sand, died in Australia on Sunday at the age of 39. Whitfield lost an 18-month battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The breakout star appeared as the gladiator hero in the first season of Spartacus, but decided to step down in January when his cancer took a turn for the worse. He was initially declared cancer-free a few months after treatment, but suffered a relapse later in the year, so his role was recast. Whitfield had previously appeared in Australian TV shows Packed to the Rathers and McLeod's Daughters.
His wife, Vashti Whitfield, issued a statement on Sunday confirming his death, saying, "On a beautiful sunny Sydney morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his love wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer ... he passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have helped carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was."
Chris Albrecht, President and CEO of Starz, issued his own statment about the tragic news, commenting, "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. Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. He will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and fans."
Source: MTV, Starz Press Release