Published: January 20, 2013

  • James A. Hood, who integrated the University of Alabama in 1963 together with his fellow student Vivian Malone after Gov. George C. Wallace capitulated to the federal government in a signature moment of the civil rights movement known as the “stand in the schoolhouse door,” died on Thursday in Gadsden, Ala. He was 70.

Associated Press

A campus police officer stood by as James A. Hood left his dormitory to go to class at the University of Alabama in 1963.

Dave Martin/Associated Press

Mr. Hood in July 1996.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Mary Hood.

On the morning of June 11, 1963, Mr. Hood and Ms. Malone, backed by a federal court order, sought to become the first blacks to successfully pursue a degree at Alabama. A black woman, Autherine Lucy, had been admitted in 1956 but was suspended three days later, ostensibly for her safety, when the university was hit by riots. She was later expelled.

Having previously proclaimed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” Wallace was blocking the entrance to Foster Auditorium on the university’s Tuscaloosa campus, while ringed by state troopers, when Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, then the deputy attorney general, approached him together with federal marshals. Mr. Hood and Ms. Malone remained nearby in a car.

Mr. Katzenbach demanded that Wallace obey a federal court order implementing the injunction issued in Ms. Lucy’s case. But Wallace was defiant, challenging its constitutionality. Mr. Katzenbach said he would be back with the students later in the day and fully expected them to be admitted.

President John F. Kennedy federalized several hundred members of the Alabama National Guard, who arrived on campus in the afternoon. Their commander, Brig. Gen. Henry V. Graham, went to the auditorium door for a second confrontation. He told Wallace it was his “sad duty” to order him to stand aside. Wallace read another defiant statement, denouncing “military dictatorship,” but departed, presumably having saved face with segregationists in an orchestrated show of defiance.

Mr. Hood and Ms. Malone embarked on their college careers that day, and violence was averted. A third black student was admitted at Alabama’s Huntsville campus a few days later.

Kennedy made a broadcast speech the night of the Tuscaloosa confrontation, calling civil rights a “moral issue.” But the next day, Medgar Evers of the Mississippi branch of the N.A.A.C.P. was shot to death in Jackson, Miss. A week later, Kennedy proposed a broad package of civil rights legislation.

Mr. Hood had a brief, dispiriting stay at Alabama. He lived in a dorm room on a floor where the only other occupants were federal marshals. A dead black cat was mailed to him, and university officials sought his expulsion for a speech attacking them and Wallace. He was also distraught because his father had cancer. He left the university on Aug. 11, 1963 — “to avoid,” he said at the time, “a complete mental and physical breakdown.”

He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Detroit and a master’s degree from Michigan State, concentrating in criminal justice and sociology. He was a deputy police chief in Detroit and the chairman of the police science program at the Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin.

Mr. Hood returned to the University of Alabama to obtain a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies in 1997.

Vivian Malone Jones became Alabama’s first black graduate and was later a civil rights official with the United States Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Administration. She died in 2005.

James Alexander Hood was born on Nov. 10, 1942, in Gadsden, where his father, Octavie, drove a tractor at a Goodyear tire plant. He attended the historically black Clark College in Atlanta (now Clark Atlanta University). His anger when he read about a survey finding that the brain development of blacks had not matched that of whites spurred his desire to advance his education and put a lie to such notions.

He sought to transfer to Alabama to study clinical psychology, since Clark did not have that program. He joined with Ms. Malone as plaintiffs in a federal suit filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund seeking to implement the original desegregation order from the Lucy case.

Mr. Hood retired from his college post in Wisconsin in 2002 and returned to Gadsden.

In addition to his daughter Mary, he is survived by another daughter, Jacquelyn Hood-Duncan; three sons, Darrell, Anthony and Marvis; two brothers, Eddie and Arthur; three sisters, Brenda Marshall, Ramona Thomas and Patricia Tuck; and nine grandchildren.

While Mr. Hood was working toward his doctorate on his return to the University of Alabama, Wallace, who had been shot and partly paralyzed while seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, invited him for a meeting. By then, Wallace had disavowed his segregationist stance.

“He said he was sorry,” Mr. Hood later told The Gadsden Times. “I said, ‘I forgave you a long time ago.’ ”

“The worst thing in the world is to hate,” Mr. Hood said, recalling that meeting. “Hate can destroy you, and I didn’t want that to happen to me.”

When Wallace died in June 1998, Mr. Hood traveled from his home in Madison, Wis., to attend the funeral. It was held in Montgomery, the first capital of the Confederacy but the capital as well of an Alabama very different from that day when he became a student at the campus in Tuscaloosa.




Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures and Shoot the Moon Productions

Linda Riss Pugach with her husband, Burton, in a 2007 film.


Published: January 23, 2013

  • She was 22, a sheltered, dark-haired Bronx beauty said to look like Elizabeth Taylor.

United Press International

Mr. Pugach with Linda Riss at the Copacabana in 1957, before the attack that blinded her and sent him to jail for 14 years.

He was a decade older, a suave lawyer who courted her with flowers, rides in his powder-blue Cadillac and trips to glittering Manhattan nightclubs. He was married, though not to her.

Before long, tiring of his unfulfilled promises to divorce his wife, she ended their affair. He hired three men, who threw lye in her face, blinding her, and went to prison for more than a decade.

Afterward, she married him.

Linda Riss Pugach, whose blinding by her lover, Burton N. Pugach, in 1959 became a news media sensation, and whose marriage to Mr. Pugach in 1974 became an equally sensational sequel, died at Forest Hills Hospital in Queens on Tuesday at 75.

The cause was heart failure, said Mr. Pugach, her husband of more than 38 years and her only immediate survivor.

In 1974, The New York Times called the attack on Miss Riss “one of the most celebrated crimes of passion in New York history.” In the years since, the strange romance of Mr. and Mrs. Pugach (pronounced POOH-gash) has seldom been far from public view.

A book about the couple, “A Very Different Love Story,” by Berry Stainback, was published in 1976. More recently, the Pugaches were the subject of a widely seen documentary, “Crazy Love.”

Part cautionary tale, part psychological study, part riveting disaster narrative, the film, directed by Dan Klores, was released in 2007 to favorable, if somewhat astonished, notices.

In the decades after their marriage, the Pugaches seemed hungry for limelight. Although reporters who visited their home in the Rego Park section of Queens wrote often of their unremitting bickering, the couple just as often appeared in the newspapers or on television to declare their mutual devotion.

They received renewed attention in 1997, when Mr. Pugach, known as Burt, went on trial in Queens on charges that he had sexually abused a woman and threatened to kill her.

At the trial, at which Mr. Pugach represented himself, Mrs. Pugach testified on his behalf, telling him in open court, “You’re a wonderful, caring husband.” The alleged victim in the case was Mr. Pugach’s mistress of five years.

Mr. Pugach, who was convicted of only a single count — harassment in the second degree — of the 11 with which he was charged in that case, was sentenced to 15 days in jail.

“We loved each other more than any other couple could have,” Mr. Pugach, intermittently weeping, said of his wife in a discursive telephone interview on Wednesday. He added, “Ours was a storybook romance.”

But to judge from the news accounts then and now, the story in question was “Beauty and the Beast.” Or, more precisely, it was that story’s unseen second act — the one in which the title union has degenerated into long, grinding yet strangely indissoluble banality.

Linda Eleanor Riss was born in the Bronx on Feb. 23, 1937. Her parents divorced when she was very young, and she was reared by her mother, her grandmother and an aunt.

She graduated from James Monroe High School in the Bronx; when she met Mr. Pugach, who specialized in negligence law, she was working as a secretary at an air-conditioner dealership on Tremont Avenue there.

After breaking off her affair with Mr. Pugach, Miss Riss became engaged to another man.

The attack, in June 1959, scarred her face and left her almost completely blind; over time, she lost what sight remained. To the end of Mrs. Pugach’s life, her face was framed by large dark glasses.

After the attack, Mr. Pugach appeared determined to continue their relationship. He telephoned her to suggest that they reconcile and later wrote her a torrent of letters from prison.

“At one point,” The Times reported in 1959, “he was said to have promised, ‘I’ll get you a Seeing Eye dog for Christmas.’ ”

“She was a sheltered, naïve young girl,” Mr. Klores, the filmmaker, said in an interview on Wednesday. “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.”

Liz O. Baylen for The New York Times

The Pugaches in their apartment in the Rego Park section of Queens in May 2007.

On Wednesday, Mr. Pugach, 85, denied having ordered the use of lye.

“I asked one guy to find someone who would beat her up, to try and get her back,” he said. “I didn’t ask anybody to throw lye at her.”

Testifying at Mr. Pugach’s trial in May 1961, Miss Riss said he had 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.”

There were ultimately two trials connected with the attack, and even by the standards of high-profile proceedings, they were spectacular. Mr. Pugach was declared insane three separate times, only to have the decisions reversed at his behest.

On another occasion, about to start the day’s proceedings, Mr. Pugach removed a lens from his eyeglasses and slashed his wrists, crying: “Linda, I need you. Linda, I love you. Linda, I want you.”

The wounds were not serious, and the trial continued.

Convicted in July 1961 for his role in the attack, Mr. Pugach was eventually sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison.

The case was ultimately appealed to the United States Supreme Court on the grounds that wiretap evidence against Mr. Pugach had been obtained illegally; the court ruled against him, 7 to 2.

Mr. Pugach was paroled from the Attica Correctional Facility in March 1974, after serving 14 years for his role in the attack and for an earlier conviction on related charges.

By the time he got out, his wife had divorced him. (He had also been disbarred; afterward, he worked as a paralegal.)

In November, after Mr. Pugach had gone on television several times to propose to Miss Riss, they were married.

In later years, Mr. Klores said, the couple went to movies and watched television, with Mr. Pugach narrating the action for his wife. Mrs. Pugach knitted and sewed, and did volunteer work with the blind. It was all quite unremarkable, apart from the singular tie that bound them.

Even after one reads accounts of the case, and even after one sees Mr. Klores’s film, the precise nature of that tie remains tantalizingly elusive. In interviews, Mrs. Pugach tended to characterize it with platitudes that revealed little.

Asked to define it on Wednesday, Mr. Klores, who spent three years with the couple during the making of his film, invoked Mrs. Pugach’s ever-present sunglasses in connection with a romance that she had after the attack, while Mr. Pugach was in prison.

“She always wore those sunglasses, even with me,” Mr. Klores said. “I asked her to take them off at the end of filming — she wouldn’t do it. When she had a serious romance as a blind woman, she did take off those glasses, and the suitor ran away. So who, in her mind, was the one man that only saw her as the beauty that she was?”

“I don’t use the word ‘guilt,’ ” Mr. Klores added, striving to put his finger on what had moved the couple to marry. “But I’m not using the word ‘love.’ ”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 24, 2013

An earlier version of a caption with this obituary referred incorrectly to the attack that blinded Ms. Pugach. It involved lye, which is a caustic base, not acid.





Published: January 22, 2013

  • Michael Winner, the brash British director known for violent action movies starring Charles Bronson including “The Mechanic” and the first three “Death Wish” films, died on Monday at his home in London. He was 77.

Paramount Pictures, via Photofest

Michael Winner, left, and Charles Bronson on the set of the 1974 film “Death Wish.” The two collaborated on several films.

His wife, Geraldine, confirmed his death in a statement to British news media. Mr. Winner revealed last summer that he had heart and liver ailments.

Mr. Winner’s films viscerally pleased crowds, largely ignored artistic pretensions and often underwhelmed critics. He directed many major stars in more than 30 films over more than four decades.

Marlon Brando played Quint in “The Nightcomers” (1971), a prequel to Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw” (Vincent Canby called it “quite bad” in The New York Times); Sophia Loren played a wife who traveled to the tropics to avenge her husband’s murder in the action film “Firepower” (1979) (“A lot happens,” Janet Maslin wrote in The Times, “None of it makes sense.”); and Oliver Reed played an adman who tried to escape the crass commercialism represented by his boss, Orson Welles, in the comedy-drama “I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname” (1967).

Mr. Winner’s most recognizable work remains a series of high-body-count action melodramas starring Charles Bronson. In “The Mechanic” (1972) Mr. Bronson played a bloodthirsty assassin, and in “The Stone Killer” (1973) he played a bloodthirsty police detective. But the actor-director team perfected their formula with “Death Wish” (1974).

Mr. Bronson played Paul Kersey, a New York City architect who becomes a vigilante after his wife is murdered and his daughter is sexually assaulted by muggers. The film struck a chord with audiences who were titillated by its extreme violence and what many took as its tough anti-crime stance, but some critics were appalled at what they saw as a transparent attempt to manipulate audiences and the cheapening of suffering and death.

“It’s a tackily made melodrama, but it so cannily orchestrates the audience’s responses that it can appeal to law-and-order fanatics, sadists, muggers, club women, fathers, older sisters, masochists, policemen, politicians, and, it seems, a number of film critics,” Vincent Canby wrote in The Times. “Its message, simply put, is: KILL. TRY IT. YOU’LL LIKE IT.”

Mr. Winner directed two more successful films in the series, but dropped out of the final two.

Michael Robert Winner was born in London on Oct. 30, 1935. The son of a well-to-do business owner, Mr. Winner graduated from Cambridge, having studied law and economics.

He was always fascinated by film, and resolved to become a director after college, even though his family thought the industry vulgar.

Mr. Winner initially struggled to find work. “Eventually I conned my way into doing a few shorts, documentaries, commercial spots and things,” he said in The London Sunday Times in 1970.

The odd jobs led to his first feature, the pop musical “Play It Cool” (1962). By the 1970s his work had reached American audiences.

He was confident on set, sometimes bordering on the dictatorial. “You have to be an egomaniac about it. You have to impose your own taste,” he said. “The team effort is a lot of people doing what I say.”

Mr. Winner also made movies with Anthony Hopkins and Burt Lancaster. His last film was the comic thriller “Parting Shots” (1998), about a photographer who decides to kill everyone who has wronged him in life after a doctor mistakenly tells him he has six weeks to live.

For almost 20 years, Mr. Winner wrote a weekly food column titled “Winner’s Dinners” for The Sunday Times of London.

Survivors include his wife, the former Geraldine Lynton-Edwards, whom he dated off and on for more than 50 years before they married in 2011.

When Mr. Winner proposed, he did not drop to one knee. “If I had,” he told The Daily Mail, “I doubt I would have been able to get back up.”


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