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Andy Whitfield of 'Spartacus' dies of cancer at age 39

Andy Whitfield as Spartacus in a 2009 production still from 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand.' (Starz Entertainment)

September 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Andy Whitfield, who played the title role in the hit cable series, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," has died after battling cancer.

The 39-year-old husband and father died Sunday in Sydney, Australia, surrounded by family after an 18-month-long battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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."

Whitfield was preparing to shoot the second season of the series when he was diagnosed with cancer.

In January, after Whitfield's condition grew worse, Starz network announced that another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, would take over the role.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.