15:29 12 September 2011
Andy Whitfield, the original Spartacus of hit US show Spartacus: Blood and Sand has died.
The 39-year-old actor had suffered from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, battling which caused him to leave the show last year.
In a statement, the star's wife Vashti said:
"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."
The Welsh-born actor had been first diagnosed with treatable Stage 1 non-Hodgkin lymphoma in early 2010. He was then declared cancer-free within two months after completing his original treatment therapy.
At the San Diego Comic-Con Spartacus panel in July 2010, Whitfield told fans:
"I feel better than ever. Like, seriously, I feel like Im 10 years younger. I had a good rest."
At that time the US network Starz stopped production on the show and instead fast-tracked a six-episode prequel in order to give the actor time to recover. But within a few months the actor announced that the cancer had returned forcing him to quit the show.
In a statement, Starz President CEO Chris Albrecht spoke of being "deeply saddened" by the loss of a "dear friend and colleague."
Whitfield was a virtual unknown when he was cast as the legendary Thracian slave in Spartacus, a role made famous by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film.
He and his wife have two children together.
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