Johnny Ruffo, who starred on the hit Australian series Home and Away from 2013 to 2016, has died after a heroic six-year battle with brain cancer. He was 35.
Ruffo was known for playing Chris Harrington on the beloved soap opera after first rising to fame as a third-place finisher on the Australian version of The X Factor in 2012. Ruffo went on to sign a record deal with Sony Music Australia and to compete on Australia’s Dancing With the Stars. Then, in 2017, he was diagnosed with cancer.
“It is with a heavy heart that today we had to farewell our beloved Johnny,” reads a post on the star’s Instagram account, posted on Thursday. “Surrounded by his partner Tahnee [Sims] and family, Johnny went peacefully with the support of some incredible Nurses & Doctors.”
The statement continues, “He was a very talented, charming and sometimes cheeky boy. Johnny was very determined and had a strong will. He battled all the way to the end and fought as hard as he could. Such a beautiful soul with so much more to give. We all love you Johnny and will remember you for all the joy you brought to our lives. Rest easy ❤️”
Johnny Ruffo attends the Save Our Sons Sydney Gala Dinner at the ICC Sydney on June 23, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. – Don Arnold/WireImage
Mel B, who served as an X Factor judge during Ruffo’s season, was among the stars grieving the loss. “My heart just broke,” she commented on the post.
Ruffo’s Home and Away co-star, Georgie Parker, added, “Sending love to Johnny’s family, friends and loved ones. He was truly one in a million, funny, bright and such a hard worker. It’s ridiculously cruel that he’s no longer here. Rest up now Johnny 💜💜”
Home and Away‘s Penny McNamee also paid tribute, writing, “Oh Johnny. He was the first cast member I ever met on @homeandaway and he was instantly warm, funny and self-deprecating. What joy he brought to the world. Sending all my love to Tahnee, and all Johnny’s family and friends. ❤️❤️❤️”
Tahnee Sims and Johnny Ruffo attend the Save Our Sons Gala at The Star on September 16, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. – Don Arnold/WireImage
Ruffo often documented his health journey on Instagram including, most recently, a slideshow shared by Sims in August. In the photos and clips, Ruffo is all smiles and even flashes the thumbs up as he shows off a forehead full of post-operation staples.
Just last year, he released a memoir titled No Finish Line. At the same time, Ruffo shared that his brain cancer was terminal.
“One of the saddest things about cancer is that even though it can feel like an isolating experience and that you’re the only victim, you quickly learn that it’s actually quite a large club that nobody asked to be part of,” he wrote in his book, per The Guardian. “Every day, I’ve found that identifying just one thing worth fighting for can give me the strength needed to pull my chin up and attack the day.”
Ruffo’s other TV credits include House of Bond and Neighbours.