Andy Whitfield, who was from Wales but lived in Australia, was a relatively unknown actor until he was chosen for the series, a sex- and blood-soaked version of the early life of the Thracian gladiator who led a slave rebellion against the Roman ruling class from 73 to 71 B.C.
Whitfield took what was supposed to be a temporary leave from the show, which was an instant hit after its January 2010 debut, after a routine check-up in March of that year revealed a recurrence of cancer.
Starz Entertainment, the premium channel that airs the show, used different actors to film a prequel called Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, while awaiting the star's return. But Mr. Whitfield never recovered enough to come back.
Andy Whitfield is survived by two children and a sister. In her statement, his wife described him as "our beautiful young warrior." She said he died in her arms.
Statement from Starz, which was home to Spartacus: Blood and Sand:
""We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield," said Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht. "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.""