Spartacus: Blood and Sand leading man Andy Whitfield died last night in his home in Sydney after battling non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for the last year (he was originally diagnosed in March 2010 then declared to be in remission in May, after two months of treatment).

His role in the Starz series having been recast for season two (his replacement was Australian actor Liam McIntyre), Andy Whitfield was seen as a model for gracious behaviour in Hollywood and a hero for his resilience in the face of illness.

The Welsh-Australian former engineer, model and actor leaves behind 2 children and his loving wife Vashti who was with him Sunday night when he passed.

Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht spoke for the cast and crew of Whitfield’s former star vehicle, saying “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield. 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.

The stunningly handsome Whitfield was in legendary shape at the time of diagnosis and a mere 39-years-old when he died, a terrifying reminder of the utter randomness of such things.

He will be remembered not only as the infamous warrior he portrayed but for the good fight he fought offscreen, for his grace and humility and for the courage he inspired in others.