Linda Pugach Dies: Woman Remembered for Marrying Man That Blinded Her

Linda Pugach died Tuesday, and the story of 1959 attack that blinded her and her subsequent marriage to her then-lover Burt Pugach is being remembered. Pugach was 75 when she passed away of rheumatic fever Forest Hills Hospital in Queens.

Linda Riss Pugach was Burt Pugach's mistress while he was married to another woman, but when she tried to break it off, he hired three men to attack her and blind her with lye. After Burt Pugach, a lawyer, was convicted for the crime and spent 14 years in prison, he divorced his wife and convinced Linda to marry him.

"I don't' know how I'm going to go on without her," Pugach told the Associated Press Thursday. "This was a very fairy tale romance."

Linda Riss and Burt Pugach first met when they were much younger- she was a secretary at an air conditioner dealership in the Bronx, and he was a negligence lawyer a decade her senior. After he wooed her and carryied on an affair for some time, Riss decided to break things off because Pugach had not divorced his wife.

Riss moved on, getting engaged to another man, but in June of 1959, Pugach hired men to assault her.

Riss testified at Pugach's 1961 trial that he told her "If I can't have you, no one else will, and when I get finished with you, no one else will want you." To this day he claims he only wanted the men to "frighten" her and make her come back to him, not blind and scar her for life.

"If I had told anyone to throw lye at her, would she have married me?" the 85-year-old asked AP. "A monster does that."

After writing love letters to Riss for 14 years, Pugach was released, and he proposed to her on live television several times. She eventually accepted.

In 1997, the events surrounding Burt and Linda Pugach were again dredged up as he was charged with harassment for threatening a mistress, saying he would make it "1959 all over again." In that case, Linda's testimony from behind her thick dark sunglasses helped him escape a more severe sentence.

"I was not able to have sex with my husband," Linda said, referring to heart surgery she had in 1990. "I was so terribly weakened I was at death's door." Pugach received 15 days in jail.

The story of Linda and Burt Pugach was chronicled in a documentary, "Crazy Love."

Linda Pugach was laid to rest in a crypt, and Burt plans to also be placed there when he dies. They were married for 38 years.