Eighteen months after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Andy Whitfield has passed away at 39.
Whitfield's wife, Vashti released the following statement to the press: "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. 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."
Whitfield was an Australian actor who gained fame in his native country on several TV series, including "Opening Up," "All Saints, "Packed to the Rafters," "McLeod's Daughters" and "The Strip" as well as a starring role in the film "Gabriel."
But Whitfield was best known for his dynamic performance as the legendary title character in "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," which was broadcast by Starz. The historical Spartacus was a Thracian slave who led an uprising against his Roman masters. Prior to Whitfield, the role was most notably brought to life by Kurt Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus" film.
In March 2010, doctors informed Whitfield that he had cancer and he withdrew from the originally planed second season to seek treatment and recover. To keep the show alive in the interim, a prequel series, "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" was centered around a different lead character in order to give Whitfield time to reclaim his role.
However, Whifield suffered a relapse in September 2010 and he was forced to permanently resign from the role. With Whitfield's blessing, Starz recast Spartacus for the next season with Liam McIntyre taking over the part.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield," wrote Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht. "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."
CraveOnline expresses our condolences and best wishes for Andy Whitfield's family, friends and fans across the world. He will not be forgotten.