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Andy Whitfield Dead: 'Spartacus' Star Dies Of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

 LOS ANGELES - Andy Whitfield, who played the title role in the hit cable series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," has died at age 39, according to representatives and household.

Whitfield died Sunday in Sydney, Australia, 18 months immediately after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, manager Sam Maydew told the Associated Press.

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

Andy Whitfield - who was born in Wales and moved to Australia in 1999 - was a virtual unknown when he was cast as the legendary Thracian slave in "Spartacus," a role made well-known by Kirk Douglas within the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film.

The series proved a breakout hit for the Starz network and produced waves with its graphic violence and sexuality.

Whitfield 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 cancer.

Whilst waiting for Whitfield's treatment and expected recovery, the network produced a six-part prequel, "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena," that aired earlier this year with only a brief voiceover from the actor.

But in January immediately after Whitfield's condition grew worse, the network announced that another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, would take more than the role.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield," Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht stated in a statement Sunday night. "We had been 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."

Whitfield's prior credits included appearances on the Australian Television shows "Packed towards the Rafters" and "McLeod's Daughters."
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