Final Bows

GIOVANNI AGNELLI, 81

As head of Fiat, Agnelli not only turned his grandfather's auto company into a global conglomerate but also became a widely admired symbol of Italy's postwar success. Dapper and congenial, Agnelli made plenty of friends in high places--like the Kennedys and many of Europe's royals--and relished jetting around the world to meet them for dinner or a party. But he was also a shrewd businessman, building Fiat into the country's largest private employer and expanding its holdings to include everything from chemicals to candy bars.

FODAY SANKOH, 65

In a region known for its brutal violence, Sankoh raised the bar just a little bit higher. In 1991 he ignited a decadelong civil war in his native Sierra Leone. Although conceived as an idealistic movement aiming to topple the country's corrupt political powers, Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front soon became rich on diamonds and infamous for its signature methods of wreaking terror, including the hacking off of civilians' hands, feet, ears and noses. The conflict displaced half the country's population and saw tens of thousands of people killed, mutilated or raped, before British and U.N. intervention put an end to the madness in 2000.

COMPAY SEGUNDO, 95

The 1997 album "Buena Vista Social Club" didn't bring him out of obscurity. A star in 1950s Havana, Segundo had already been touring Europe. Nor was his name Compay Segundo; Maximo Francisco Repilado Munoz got that nickname (roughly, Comrade No. 2) because he used his deep, rich voice to sing backup. Otherwise, you can trust the myth: he was a cigar smoker, a rum-drinking ladies' man and one of the most powerful and tasteful musicians who ever strode onto a stage.

NINA SIMONE, 70

What Eunice Waymon had wanted, when she was growing up, was to be a concert pianist. What she ended up with was the creation she called Nina Simone: a dark-voiced, almost scary singer, an eclectic jazz-based pianist, a civil-rights activist, a cult favorite, a troubled soul. "I was forced into showbiz to make a living," Simone recalled. "And I'm still angry about it." But her anger served her art--it, too, turned out to be a gift. One she had the courage to accept and strength to use.

SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO, 55

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the top U.N. official in Baghdad was killed in August by a truck bomb, dealing a devastating blow to the institution Vieira de Mello had served for more than 30 years. The Brazilian diplomat was a top U.N. troubleshooter, working crises from Rwanda to East Timor, and most often leaving peace in his wake. Once living proof that multilateral efforts could solve some of the world's worst problems, he is in death a sober reminder of how dangerous that work can be.

SADRUDDIN AGA KHAN, 70

As the longest-serving U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, he found homes for millions. And always an advocate for those who couldn't defend themselves, he was one of the first and most eloquent leaders to protest against genocide in Bosnia. "The true message of Islam," he used to say, "is about brotherhood and solidarity." Especially now, his is a message, and a voice, that are sorely missed.

BERNARD LOISEAU, 52

One of France's most respected chefs, Loiseau ultimately found the pressures of running a world-renowned restaurant too much. His suicide, which came shortly after the downgrading of his Hotel de la Cote d'Or's GaultMillau rating, sent the culinary world into shock. But Loiseau should be remembered less for the way he died than for how he lived--and cooked. His deftness with natural flavors led him to celebrity outside the kitchen, and ever the innovator, he was the first French restaurateur to float his business on the Paris Bourse in 1998.

LESLIE CHEUNG, 46

When Leslie Cheung jumped to his death from the top of a Hong Kong hotel on April 1, devastated fans couldn't help drawing a sad parallel to one of the talented performer's most memorable roles: as a homosexual opera star who commits suicide in the 1993 film "Farewell My Concubine." As an actor he was unafraid of risk, a quality that appealed to directors from John Woo to Wong Karwai to Chen Kaige, who saw in him a moody Asian antihero. Off-screen he battled with demons; he left behind a suicide note alluding to depression.

ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC, 78

A Muslim by faith and a pacifist by conviction, Izetbegovic had no army of his own to call on when Yugoslavia crumbled. But as Bosnia's first president, he faced down Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman, two men determined to carve up the ethnic-ally divided country through brute force, and stood out as a rare voice of reason during the war. Un-like Milosevic and Tudjman, he will be remembered as the man who upheld the West's values when the West abandoned Bosnia.

EDWARD SAID, 67

His influential 1978 book "Orientalism" helped launch the field of post-colonial studies. But Columbia University professor Edward Said--born into a Christian family in British-controlled Jerusalem--was best known as an articulate champion of the Palestinian cause in America. A relentless critic of Israeli and U.S. policies, Said also turned against Yasir Arafat in the 1990s, denouncing him for selling out his people. With Said's death, they lost an eloquent voice.

WALTER SISULU, 90

In 1941, Sisulu, then a regional African National Congress leader, took in a young lodger named Nelson Mandela. The two later formed the ANC youth league and fought side by side for the ANC's military wing before being captured and sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island in 1963. Released in 1989, Sisulu helped lead the final stages of the antiapartheid struggle before finally retiring in 1994.