Andy Whitfield, Star of Spartacus, Dies at 39

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Last Sunday, Andy Whitfield, 39, died in his Australia home after battling cancer for over a year. According to U.S. Weekly, his wife stated “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.”

Before his battle with cancer, Whitfield performed in a variety of roles, both in film and television, that includes “Gabriel” (2007/Gabriel), “The Clinic” (2010/Cameron Marshall), “All Saints” (2004/Matthew Parkes), “The Strip” (2008/Charlie Palmer), “Packed to the Rafters” (2008/Nick Leigh), and “McLeod’s Daughters” (2008/Brett Samuels).

Recently he played the lead role as Spartacus in the increasing popular Starz TV series, “Spartacus.” The series follows the early life of the Thracian gladiator, Spartacus, the man who will become the leader of a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Unfortunately, due to his cancer treatment and decreasing health, Whitfield was forced to back out of the second season, the prequel to “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” (Season 1). He instead played the voice of Spartacus in the “Spartacus” prequel series, “Spartacus: Gods of of the Arena.” For the second season, the series focused Gannicus (Dustin Clare), the man who will become the Champion of Capua. The time setting takes place before Spartacus’s arrival.

The CEO and President of Starz, Chris Albrecht, has stated that they have placed Whitfield’s family in their thoughts and prayers. In his statement he said, “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.”

The actor was diagnosed in March 2010 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer. After receiving his diagnosis he went to New Zealand to undergo treatment for his cancer. In January though, after being declared cancer free, his health began to rapidly decrease. According to MTV news, the star had “suffered a relapse later in the year that forced him to abandon the role, which was recast.” Sadly, after 18 months of his ongoing battle with lymphoma, he succumbed to it this past Sunday on September 11, 2011.

Albrecht stated “Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace…He will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and fans.”

Photos courtesy of Gage Skidmore and Starz Entertainment, LLC via Wikipedia Commons.

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