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Home and Away actor Johnny Ruffo dies aged 35

<span>Photograph: Don Arnold/WireImage</span>
Photograph: Don Arnold/WireImage

Johnny Ruffo, the former Home and Away actor and X Factor contestant, has died aged 35.

Ruffo was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017, and underwent surgery to remove a tumour, but the cancer returned three years later. Last August, Ruffo revealed that his diagnosis was terminal.

His death was announced in a statement shared to his Instagram account on Friday.

“It is with a heavy heart that today we had to farewell our beloved Johnny,” the statement read.

“Surrounded by his partner Tahnee and family, Johnny went peacefully with the support of some incredible nurses and doctors.

“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.”

Born in Perth in 1988, Ruffo first came to the public’s attention as a contestant on the musical reality show The X Factor, coming third in the 2011 competition. The following year he signed a contract with Sony Music Australia and recorded a duet with his former X Factor mentor Guy Sebastian, then competed in celebrity dance show Dancing With The Stars.

In 2013, Ruffo began a three-year stint on the soap opera Home and Away, playing Chris Harrington, the first son in a wealthy family and likable clown, who had several romances with women in Summer Bay. For his performance Ruffo was nominated for most popular new talent at the 2014 Logie awards.

In 2017, Ruffo revealed he had been diagnosed with brain cancer. He underwent surgery to remove a tumour and two years later, revealed he was in remission.

In November 2020, he revealed that his brain cancer had returned, writing on Instagram: “After an unexpected week of seizures and excruciating headaches it is with a heavy heart that I have to let you know I now have another huge battle ahead of me as my brain cancer has returned, though I will dig deep and beat this shit disease again.”

In August 2022, he announced his cancer was terminal, the same month he released a memoir titled No Finish Line.

“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.

“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.”

On Friday, Sebastian remembered his friend as “the funniest bloke and such a kind soul … you lit up my life every time I saw you and I only wish I saw you more.”

Angus Ross of the Seven Network, which broadcasts both Home and Away and Dancing with the Stars, paid tribute to Ruffo as a “talented and charismatic performer [who] was born to entertain and brought joy to the lives of so many on and off the screen. His infectious energy and big heart will be missed by all who had the privilege to know him. We pass on our heartfelt condolences to Johnny’s partner, family and friends.”