Linda Pugach, Blinded In Notorious NYC Attack: Dies At 75 Still Wed To Man Who Ordered It
Linda Pugach, victim of an infamous 1959 attack in New York in which she was blinded when her lover hired hit men to throw lye in her face — only to later marry him, has died.
Pugach, who was 75, died from heart failure on Tuesday at Long Island Jewish Hospital in Queens.
According to The Associated Press, her husband Burton Pugach sobbed as he told them, “This was a very fairy tale romance.”
Others may have a very different interpretation.
In 1959, a married Pugach, was sentenced to 14 years after hiring hitmen to attack his then-girlfriend Linda Riss (as she was known) with lye — which blinded her.
Pugach ordered the attack after Riss rejected him.
At the time, the attack made tabloid sensations out of the pair. Their notoriety increased when Pugach divorced his first wife following his release from prison, and promptly married Riss in 1974 after proposing to her on live television.
Their story was later portrayed in a 2007 documentary Crazy Love.
After its release, Pugach lavished praise on its director Dan Klores for telling the couple’s story in a way that “has colors — it was no longer black and white,” Salon notes.
Decades later, Pugach was accused in another case — this time of aggravated harassment and threatening behavior — but he was acquitted of the charges in 1997.
The woman at the heart of that case claimed she had been having a five-year affair with Pugach and testified that he threatened to recreate “1959 all over again.”
Pugagh said in an interview at the time, “Haven’t you ever threatened to kill your husband? Did you mean it? Of course not. … this has been blown out of proportion like I’ve never seen.”
Linda Pugach, by now his wife, also gave evidence at that trial and described her husband as a good man whose only ‘crime’ was adultery.
Speaking of his wife’s last days, Pugach said Linda was admitted to hospital on December 26, 2012, just before a planned property buying trip to Florida.
“I don’t know how I’m going to go on without her,” he told AP.
Asked once more about the infamous attack, Pugach denied his involvement, saying:
“If I had told anyone to throw lye at her, would she have married me? A monster does that.”