Barsi on an episode of Punky Brewster
|Born||Judith Eva Barsi
June 6, 1978
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||July 25, 1988
Canoga Park, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Homicide|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills|
Judith Eva Barsi (June 6, 1978 – July 25, 1988) was an American child actress of the mid to late 1980s. She began her career in television, making appearances in commercials and television shows, and later appeared in the films Jaws: The Revenge, The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go to Heaven, supplying the voice for animated characters in the latter two. In 1988, after years of physical and mental abuse, her father, József, shot and killed Judith and her mother, Maria, before fatally shooting himself in a double murder–suicide.
Judith's father, József, fled Communist Hungary after the 1956 Soviet occupation. He eventually relocated to New York in 1964, and then to California, where he met Maria Virovacz. She, a Hungarian immigrant escaping the Soviet occupation, was born in rural southern Hungary, and suffered psychological and physical abuse from her father. They married, and Judith's birth quickly followed in Los Angeles, California, where she was raised.
Maria began grooming Judith to become an actress, and at the age of five, she was discovered at a skating rink. Barsi's first role was in Fatal Vision, playing the toddler Kimberley MacDonald, although Barsi was six at the time of the miniseries' transmission. She went on to appear in more than 70 commercials and guest roles on television. As well as her career in television, she appeared in several films including Jaws: The Revenge as Thea Brody and provided the voice of Ducky in The Land Before Time.
By the time she started fourth grade, Judith was earning an estimated $100,000 a year, which helped her family buy a three-bedroom house in West Hills, Los Angeles. As she was short for her age (she stood 3 ft 8 in (1.12 m) at age 10), she began receiving hormone injections at UCLA to encourage her growth. Her petiteness led casting directors to cast her as children that were younger than her actual age. Her agent was quoted in The Los Angeles Times as saying that when she was ten, "she was still playing 7, 8".
Abuse and murder
As Judith's career success increased, József became increasingly abusive, jealous and paranoid, and would routinely threaten to kill himself, Maria, and Judith. His alcoholism worsened, and resulted in three separate arrests for drunk driving. In December 1986, Maria reported his threats and physical violence toward her to the police. After they found no physical signs of abuse, she eventually decided not to press charges against him.
After the incident, József reportedly stopped drinking, but continued to threaten Maria and Judith, which included threats of cutting their throats as well as burning down the house. He reportedly hid a telegram informing Maria that a relative in Hungary had died, in an attempt to prevent her and Judith from leaving America. Physical violence continued, with Judith telling a friend about him throwing pots and pans at her, resulting in a nosebleed. Due to his abuse, she began putting on weight and exhibited disturbing behavior, which included plucking out all her eyelashes and pulling out her cat's whiskers. After breaking down in front of her agent during a singing audition for All Dogs Go to Heaven, she was taken by Maria to a child psychologist, who identified severe physical and emotional abuse and reported her findings to Child Protective Services.
The investigation was dropped after Maria assured the case worker that she intended to begin divorce proceedings against József and that she and Judith were going to move into a Panorama City apartment she had recently rented as a daytime haven from him. Friends urged her to follow through with the plan, but she resisted, reportedly because she did not want to lose the family home and belongings.
Judith was last seen riding her bike on the morning of July 25, 1988. That evening, József shot her in the head while she was sleeping, and then Maria. He spent the next two days wandering around the house, and said during a phone conversation with Judith's agent the next night that he intended to move out for good, and just needed time to "say goodbye to my little girl." He then poured gasoline on the bodies and set them on fire. After incinerating the bodies, he went to the garage and shot himself in the head with a .32 caliber pistol. On August 9, 1988, Judith and Maria were interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
Judith's final film, All Dogs Go to Heaven, in which she voiced the orphan Anne-Marie, was released in 1989. Don Bluth, the director of The Land Before Time, described her as "absolutely astonishing. She understood verbal direction, even for the most sophisticated situations," and he had intended to feature her extensively in his future productions.
|1984||Fatal Vision||Kimberly (age 3)||Miniseries|
|1984||Jessie||Katie||Episode: "Valerie's Turn"|
|1985||Kids Don't Tell||Jennifer Ryan||Television movie|
|1985||Do You Remember Love||Kathleen||Television movie|
|1985||The New Twilight Zone||Gertie||Segment: "A Little Peace and Quiet"|
|1985||There Were Times, Dear||Molly Reed||Television movie|
|1985||The Fall Guy||Little Girl||Episode: "Escape Claus"|
|1986||Remington Steele||Laurie Beth Piper||Episode: "Suburban Steele"|
|1986||Punky Brewster||Anna||2 episodes|
|1986||Trapper John, M.D.||Lindsay Christmas||Episode: "Life, Death and Dr. Christmas"|
|1986||Cheers||Child #1||Episode: "Relief Bartender"|
|1986||Cagney & Lacey||Shauna Bard||Episode: "Disenfranchised"|
|1986||The New Gidget||Little Girl||Episode: "It's Only Rock & Roll"|
|1986||Eye of the Tiger||Jennifer Matthews|
|1986||The Love Boat||Christmas angel||Episode: "The Christmas Cruise: Part 2"|
|1987||Destination America||Amy||Television movie|
|1987||Jaws: The Revenge||Thea Brody|
|1987–88||The Tracey Ullman Show||Little Girl / Karen||2 episodes|
|1988||St. Elsewhere||Debbie Oppenheimer||Episode: "The Abby Singer Show"|
|1988||Growing Pains||Young Carol||Episode: "Graduation Day"|
|1988||ABC Afterschool Special||Billie Foster||Episode: "A Family Again"; Released posthumously|
|1988||The Land Before Time||Ducky (voice)||Released posthumously|
|1989||All Dogs Go to Heaven||Anne-Marie (voice)||Released posthumously|
|1992||Growing Pains||Young Carol||Episode: "The Last Picture Show, part 2" (archive footage)|
- Barsi, Ági (1999), What will you do?, A Better Life, ISBN 0967169399
- Johnson, John; Fuentes, Gabe (1988-08-07). "A Script of Fear: Repeated Threats by Father of Child Actress Carried to Tragic End". latimes.com. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- DEATH OF A FAMILY - Judith Barsi's story. Arnold Shapiro Productions. February 15, 1989.
- "Local News in Brief: Child-Abuse Files Ordered Opened". latimes.com. 1988-08-23. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Donnelley, Paul (2005-11-01). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries (3 ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 122. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
- Barber, Sherry (1988-09-18). "A Lesson Learned From Family Tragedy". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Girl who appeared on 'Growing Pains' told show's star: My dad says he's going to kill me!". The National Enquirer. 1988-09-16.
- Fuentes, Gabe (1988-09-07). "Inquiry in Barsi Case Dropped Too Soon, Panel Says". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- "Local News in Brief: Bodies Identified as Child Actress, Mother". latimes.com. 1988-07-29. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Fuentes, Gabe (July 28, 1988). "Three Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- "Child Actress Is Slain, Apparently by Father". The New York Times. 1988-07-30. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- C. Phillips, Deidre (1988-08-10). "Child actress Barsi, mother buried". Los Angeles Daily News.
- Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 1-55652-591-5.
- "Don Bluth - .... on Movies, Games and Visions". Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Cawley, John. "Don Bluth All Dogs Go To Heaven". Retrieved 9 July 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Judith Barsi.|
- Judith Barsi at the Internet Movie Database
- Child Actress Judith Barsi: A Life Cut Tragically Short, Crime Library
- Judith Barsi at Find a Grave