Linda Pugach was having an affair with Burt Pugach, and her lover hired three men to blind her with lye in 1959 after she stopped the trysts. The attack left her blind in her left eye and her right eye was badly damaged.
Yet, she went on to marry Burt Pugach, and their bizarre love story was the subject of the 2007 documentary “Crazy Love.”
“We had a fairy tale marriage,” a grief stricken Burt Pugach told the New York Daily News. “She was extremely loyal to me … I don’t know how I’m going to be able to continue without her.”
He served 14 years in prison for his role in the lye attack. Pugach hired three men to “frighten” his mistress, and he denied ordering them to use the lye to blind her, the New York Times said.
“I asked one guy to find someone who would beat her up, to try and get her back,” he told the newspaper. “I didn’t ask anybody to throw lye at her.”
Dan Klores, director of “Crazy Love,” said the relationship between Burt and Linda Pugach “was on some level tragic, but also psychologically fulfilling.”
Linda Pugach died on Tuesday night of rheumatic fever, the New York Daily News reported.
The couple’s story made tabloid headlines in New York in the 1970s, and a book about their love, “A Very Different Love Story,” was published in 1976, an article in the New York Times said.
Burt Pugach told the newspaper that he and his wife spent the time after the attack declaring their love for each other in the media.
“We loved each other more than any other couple could have,” he said. “Ours was a storybook romance.”
Twenty years after the attack, the couple’s marriage was in the limelight again when Burt Pugach was on trial for alleged sexual abuse and threatening to kill a woman who he had been carrying on an affair with for five years while still married to Linda Pugach.
Linda Pugach testified during the 1997 trial and supported her husband, who was convicted of harassment but acquitted on more serious charges. Burt Pugach was sentenced to 15 days in jail in the case.
“You’re a wonderful, caring husband,” she testified, the New York Times quoted her as saying at the time.
Linda Pugach was viewed by some as an Elizabeth Taylor look-alike, and Klores said she suffered after the lye attack.
"She was a sheltered, naïve young girl,” he told the Times. “Her identity was centered around her physical beauty. When she had this romance with this older man — this obsessive relationship — he worshiped her for that physical beauty. And when that was taken from her, the scars weren’t merely on the outside.”