Judith Eva Barsi (b. June 6, 1978 - d. July 25, 1988) was an American child actress. She was small in stature and often played characters younger than her actual age. On July 25, 1988, at the age of 10, she was murdered, along with her mother Maria Barsi, by her father, Jozsef Barsi.
Judith Barsi was the daughter of Hungarian immigrants Jozsef Barsi and Maria Barsi (née Benko), who had both fled the 1956 Soviet occupation of Hungary and then emigrated to Los Angeles,California shortly before the birth of their daughter. Her mother dreamed of her becoming an actress, as she once made an effort to do so for herself. When Judith was five years old, she was "discovered" at a skating rink. Looking younger than she was, she was mistaken for a three-year-old. She went on to appear in over 70 commercials and soon appeared in films. Later in her life, Judith had hormone injections to encourage her growth.
As Judith became more famous, her father Jozsef, an alcoholic and unemployed plumber, became increasingly abusive, jealous, and paranoid. He would mentally abuse Judith, and once held a knife to her throat while threatening to kill her, because he was convinced that his wife and daughter would leave for a photo shoot ormovie shoot and never come back. Judith was taken to a child psychologist after breaking down in front of her agent. The psychologist identified severe mental, physical and emotional abuse, and reported her findings to the authorities. Nearing her final months, Judith one day plucked all her eyelashes and removed the whiskers from her cat; this was an act brought on by severe stress from her father's abuse.
Jozsef would often stay home drunk and refused to let Maria work, due to which the family was on welfare for a brief period until Judith's career started taking off around 1986. By the time she entered fourth grade, she was earning an estimated $100,000 a year, which helped her to buy the family a three-bedroom house in the West Hills section of Los Angeles. Jozsef suffered from paranoia, and had their house surrounded by a high-fence which could only be opened from inside the house.
Jozsef remained a recluse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter many times. Child Protective Services was called numerous times, but as Maria was reluctant to press any charges, the case was never followed up. Maria rented an apartment for her daughter and herself as a daytime safe haven away from Jozsef. On July 27, 1988, the bodies of Judith and Maria Barsi were discovered by fire fighters responding to a call from a neighbor reporting a fire at the Barsi house. The date of the murder has never been determined; the police have said that Jozsef could have killed his wife and child on July 25 or July 26. It is believed that, after realizing that Maria was planning to leave him, Jozsef entered Judith's second-floor bedroom and shot her in the head; he then shot Maria in the same way as she ran down the corridor toward her daughter's room. He then drenched the bodies in gasoline and set the house on fire before shooting himself in the garage.
Judith and her mother were buried in an unmarked grave at the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. In June 2004, a fund was set up to get headstones for their graves. The fund was spearheaded by Nancy Kelly of Yelm, WA. Judith's marker was placed on August 23, 2004 while one for her mother was placed on January 28, 2005. Future donations will go toward donating Beanie Babies to hospitalized children. Judith's marker reads "Our Concrete Angel - Yep Yep Yep" in reference to a popular song about child abuse and her character Ducky's catchphrase from The Land Before Time. Her mother's marker reads "The wind beneath JEB's (Judith's initials) wings - Yep Yep Yep".
Those of Judith's toys which had survived the fire her father had set were later donated to the Goodwill.
Irene Cara and Freddie Jackson reportedly recorded the All Dogs Go to Heaven theme song "Love Survives" for Judith Barsi. The film, in which she voices the orphaned Anne-Marie, was released a year and a half after her death in 1989.
Role in The Land Before Time
One of Judith's most famous roles was voicing the character Ducky in the original The Land Before Time. When she was questioned about it in an interview, Barsi stated that of all her acting roles, both live-action and animated, Ducky was her favourite. The Sullivan-Bluth Studio was so enthralled by Barsi's performance as Ducky, that it lead Don Bluth to hire her as the voice for Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven,, which was her final role before her death.
|1984||Fatal Vision||Kimberly (age 3)||Miniseries|
|1985||Kids Don't Tell||Jennifer Ryan||TV film|
|Do You Remember Love||Kathleen||TV film|
|There Were Times, Dear||Molly Reed||TV film|
|1986||Eye of the Tiger||Jennifer Matthews|
|1987||Destination America||TV film|
|Jaws: The Revenge||Thea Brody|
|1988||A Family Again||Billie Foster||ABC After School Special|
|Princess Atta||Additional voices|
|Oliver Likes a Snow||Little Girl #1 and Chick #4||voice only|
|Oliver's Halloween||Orbitty, Chick #4 and additional voices||voice only|
|The Land Before Time||Ducky||voice only|
|1989||All Dogs Go to Heaven||Anne-Marie||voice only|
|1985||The New Twilight Zone||Bertie||#1.2||"A Little Peace and Quiet"||September 27, 1985|
|The Fall Guy||Little Girl||#5.8||"Escape Claus"||December 21, 1985|
|1986||Punky Brewster||Anna||#2.18||"Changes" part 2||February 9, 1986|
|#2.19||"Changes" part 3||February 16, 1986|
|Remington Steele||Laurie Beth||#4.13||"Suburban Steele"||February 11, 1986|
|Cheers||Child #1||#4.23||"Relief Bartender"||March 27, 1986|
|Cagney & Lacey||Shauna Bard||#6.4||"Disenfranchised"||October 27, 1986|
|1988||Growing Pains||Little Carol||#3.26||"Graduation Day"||May 4, 1988|
|St. Elsewhere||Debbie Oppenheimer||#6.20||"The Abby Singer Show"||May 18, 1988|