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September 12, 2011

Andy Whitfield, Spartacus Star, Passes

The title character of the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand died of lymphoma 18 months after being diagnosed.

Andy Whitfield, an actor who played the title role in the Starz cable series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, died September 11, 2011, in Sydney, Australia. He was 39.

The cause was non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which he had been diagnosed with 18 months ago.

In Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Whitfield starred as the title character, a Thracian slave enlisted to fight in gladiatorial battles for the entertainment of the ruling class. He appeared in all 13 episodes of the first season that aired in 2010, and was preparing to shoot the second when he was diagnosed with the disease.

In a statement, Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht 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. 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.”

While waiting for Whitfield’s treatment and expected recovery, the network produced a six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which aired earlier this year. Whitfield provided a brief voiceover.

In January, after Whitfield’s condition had worsened, Starz announced that another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, would take over the role of Spartacus in the original show’s second season.

Whitfield was born in Wales, but moved to Australia in 1999. Prior to being cast in Spartacus, he had roles in several Australian television series, including All Saints, The Strip, Packed to the Rafters and McLeod’s Daughters.

Upon his passing, his wife, Vashti Whitfield, shared the following statement: “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 helped carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was.”

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