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By Times Staff Writer
Published April 9, 2003

CECILE de BRUNHOFF, 99, the inspiration for Babar, the enchanting little elephant whose adventures captivated generations of children, died Monday in Paris. She invented the tale of a little elephant as a bedtime story for her boys in 1931. They in turn told their father, painter Jean de Brunhoff, who illustrated the story and filled in details. Before The Story of Babar was published, Cecile de Brunhoff insisted that her name be removed from the book because she thought her role too minor, according to publishers Harry N. Abrams Inc.

VALENTIN PAVLOV, 66, a former Soviet prime minister who helped lead a failed coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, died March 30 in Moscow, Russian news reports said. In August 1991, Mr. Pavlov and other Soviet hard-liners calling themselves the State Emergency Committee announced that Gorbachev was ill. They isolated the reformist Soviet leader at a Black Sea resort and moved armored columns into Moscow. They stopped short of using them on thousands of protesters, who rallied behind Boris Yeltsin, then president of the Russian republic. After just three days, the coup collapsed, Gorbachev was freed, and the plotters were arrested.

LEON LEVY, 77, a prominent philanthropist who gave more than $140-million to nonprofit institutions, died Sunday in New York City. His donations, often made anonymously and with little fanfare, included a $20-million gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a new wing. Mr. Levy, a hedge fund pioneer who advocated the practice of investing in troubled or even bankrupt companies, was a co-founder of Odyssey Partners.

[Last modified April 18, 2003, 13:17:47]