'Spartacus' star Andy Whitfield dies of lymphoma
From the AP:
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 family. Whitfield died Sunday in Sydney, Australia, 18 months after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, manager Sam Maydew told the AP.
"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," Whitfield's wife Vashti said in a statement. "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 -- who was born in Wales and moved to Australia in 1999 -- was a virtual unknown when he was cast as the legendary Thracian slave. 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.
While 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, after Whitfield's condition grew worse, the network announced that another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, would take over the role.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield," Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht said in a statement. "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."
Whitfield's previous credits included appearances on the Australian TV shows Packed to the Rafters and McLeod's Daughters.
[Photo: We should all be so lucky to have such an awesome obituary photo, at the very least. AP]