Former 'Spartacus' Star Andy Whitfield Dies of Lymphoma

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Andy Whitfield, the former star of Starz's drama series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, died Sunday of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Sydney, his manager Sam Maydew told the Associated Press. He was 39.

Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht said he and his network colleagues are "deeply saddened" over the news.

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"We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion onscreen was also a champion in his own life," Albrecht said. " 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.”

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Whitfield's wife Vashti in a statement called her husband a "beautiful young warrior" who died on a "sunny Sydney morning" in the "arms of his loving wife."

Whitfield -- who was born in Wales and lived in Australia -- was a virtual unknown when he was cast as the title hero in Spartacus, a hit original series that made waves with its graphic violence and sexuality.

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Whitfield was preparing for the second season when he was diagnosed 18 months ago.

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In January, the network announced that another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, would take over the role.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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