Judith Barsi

Judith Eva Barsi (June 6, 1978 – July 25, 1988) was an American child actress of the 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, providing the voice for animated characters in the latter two. She and her mother, Maria, were killed in July 1988 as a result of a double murder–suicide perpetrated in their home by her father, József.[1]

Judith Barsi
Barsi Judith
Barsi on an episode of Punky Brewster
Judith Eva Barsi

June 6, 1978
DiedJuly 25, 1988 (aged 10)
Canoga Park, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of deathHomicide by gunshot
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
Years active1984–1988

Family history

Barsi’s father, József, fled Communist Hungary after the 1956 Soviet occupation. He relocated to New York in 1964, and then to California,[2] where he met Maria Virovacz, also a Hungarian immigrant escaping the Soviet occupation.[1] They married and moved to Los Angeles, California where, on June 6, 1978, Barsi was born.[3]


Maria Barsi began grooming her daughter to become an actress, and at the age of five, she was discovered at a skating rink.[1] Barsi's first role was in Fatal Vision, playing Kimberley MacDonald. She went on to appear in more than seventy commercials and guest roles on television.[4] As well as her career in television, she appeared in several films, including Jaws: The Revenge, and provided the voices of Ducky in The Land Before Time, and Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven.

By the time she started fourth grade, Barsi was earning an estimated $100,000 a year, which helped her family buy a three-bedroom house in West Hills, Los Angeles.[5] As she was short for her age—she stood 3 ft 8 in (1.12 m) at age 10[1]—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."[1]

Abuse and murder

As Barsi’s career success increased, József became increasingly angry and would routinely threaten to kill himself and his wife and daughter. His alcoholism worsened, causing the police to arrest him three separate times for drunk driving.[1] In December 1986, Maria reported his threats and physical violence toward her to the police. After police found no physical signs of abuse, she decided not to press charges against him.[1]

After the incident with police, József Barsi reportedly stopped drinking, but continued to threaten Maria and Judith. His various threats included 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 from leaving the United States with Judith.[6] The physical violence continued, with Barsi telling a friend that her father threw pots and pans at her, resulting in a nosebleed.[7] As a result of his abuse, Barsi began gaining weight[6] and exhibited disturbing behavior, which included plucking out her eyelashes and pulling out her cat's whiskers.[1] After breaking down in front of her agent during a singing audition for All Dogs Go to Heaven, Barsi was taken by Maria to a child psychologist, who identified severe physical and emotional abuse and reported her findings to Child Protective Services.[1]

The investigation was dropped after Maria assured the case worker that she intended to begin divorce proceedings against József and that she and Barsi were going to move into a Panorama City apartment she had recently rented as a daytime haven from him.[8] Friends urged her to follow through with the plan, but she resisted, reportedly because she was afraid that she would lose the family home and belongings.[1]

Judith Barsi Headstone Grave
Barsi's grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills

Judith Barsi was last seen riding her bike on the morning of July 25, 1988.[3] That evening, József shot her in the head while she was sleeping, and then murdered Maria.[5] He spent the next two days wandering around the house,[3] and said during a phone conversation with Barsi’s agent the next night that he intended to move out for good, and just needed time to "say goodbye to my little girl."[1] He then poured gasoline on the bodies and set them on fire.[9] After incinerating the bodies, he went to the garage and shot himself in the head with a .32 caliber pistol.[10][11] On August 9, 1988, Barsi and her mother were interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.[12]


Barsi’s final film, All Dogs Go to Heaven, in which she provided the speaking voice of Anne-Marie, was released in November 1989.[13] Don Bluth, the director of The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go To Heaven, described her as "absolutely astonishing. She understood verbal direction, even for the most sophisticated situations,"[14] and he intended to feature her extensively in his future productions.[15] The end credits song "Love Survives" was dedicated in her memory.


Year Title Role Notes
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 Knots Landing Bratty Girl Episode: "#14 with a Bullet"
1985 The 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 Slam Dance Bean
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 from "Graduation Day")


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k 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.
  2. ^ Barsi, Ági (1999), What will you do?, A Better Life, ISBN 0967169399
  3. ^ a b c DEATH OF A FAMILY – Judith Barsi's story. Arnold Shapiro Productions. February 15, 1989.
  4. ^ "Local News in Brief: Child-Abuse Files Ordered Opened". latimes.com. 1988-08-23. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b Donnelley, Paul (2005-11-01). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries (3 ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 122. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  6. ^ a b Barber, Sherry (1988-09-18). "A Lesson Learned From Family Tragedy". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Fuentes, Gabe (1988-09-07). "Inquiry in Barsi Case Dropped Too Soon, Panel Says". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  9. ^ "Local News in Brief: Bodies Identified as Child Actress, Mother". latimes.com. 1988-07-29. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  10. ^ Fuentes, Gabe (July 28, 1988). "Three Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  11. ^ "Child Actress Is Slain, Apparently by Father". The New York Times. 1988-07-30. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  12. ^ C. Phillips, Deidre (1988-08-10). "Child actress Barsi, mother buried". Los Angeles Daily News.
  13. ^ Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 1-55652-591-5.
  14. ^ "Don Bluth – .... on Movies, Games and Visions". Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  15. ^ Cawley, John. "Don Bluth All Dogs Go To Heaven". Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2013.

External links

1978 in the United States

Events from the year 1978 in the United States.

1988 in animation

Events in 1988 in animation.

1988 in film

The following is an overview of events in 1988 in film, including the highest-grossing films, award ceremonies and festivals, a list of films released and notable deaths. Rain Man was awarded the Academy Award for Best Picture, marking one of the few instances where the top-grossing film of the year was also the winner of such an award that year.

ABC Afterschool Special

ABC Afterschool Special is an American television anthology series that aired on ABC from October 14, 1972, to July 1, 1997, usually in the late afternoon on weekdays. Most episodes were dramatically presented situations, often controversial, of interest to children and teenagers. Several episodes were either in animated form or presented as documentaries. Topics included illiteracy, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. The series won 51 Daytime Emmy Awards during its 25-year run.In 2004 and 2005, BCI Eclipse and Sunset Home Visual Entertainment issued six DVD collections of episodes from the series that had been produced by Martin Tahse, each collection containing four episodes. A boxed set, in the shape of a school bus, was also released containing all of the DVD releases, with a detailed information booklet of all the specials on the set and including an extra DVD of two specials that had previously not been released on DVD. The DVDs are currently out of print.

All Dogs Go to Heaven

All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 animated musical fantasy directed and produced by Don Bluth, and released by United Artists and Goldcrest Films. It tells the story of Charlie B. Barkin (voiced by Burt Reynolds), a German Shepherd that is murdered by his former friend, Carface (voiced by Vic Tayback, in his penultimate film role), but withdraws from his place in Heaven to return to Earth, where his best friend, Itchy Itchiford (voiced by Dom DeLuise) still lives, and they team up with a young orphan girl named Anne-Marie (voiced by Judith Barsi, in her final film role; movie released postumously), who teaches them an important lesson about kindness, friendship and love.

The film is an Irish, British and American venture, produced by Sullivan Bluth Studios Ireland Ltd. and Goldcrest Films. On its cinema release, it competed directly with Walt Disney Feature Animation's The Little Mermaid, released on the same day. While it did not repeat the box-office success of Sullivan Bluth's previous feature films, An American Tail, and The Land Before Time, it was successful on home video, becoming one of the biggest-selling VHS releases ever. It inspired a theatrical sequel, a television series, and a holiday direct-to-video film.

All Dogs Go to Heaven was released on DVD on November 17, 1998, and as an MGM Kids edition on March 6, 2001. It had a DVD double-feature release with its sequel on March 14, 2006, and January 18, 2011. The film was released in high definition for the first time on Blu-ray on March 29, 2011, without special features except the original theatrical trailer.

Canoga Park, Los Angeles

Canoga Park is a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, United States. Its 60,000+ residents are considered to be "highly diverse" ethnically. Before the Mexican–American War, the district was part of a rancho, and after the American victory it was converted into wheat farms and then subdivided, with part of it named Owensmouth as a town founded in 1912. It joined Los Angeles in 1917 and was renamed Canoga Park on March 1, 1931, thanks to the efforts of local civic leader Mary Logan Orcutt.

Do You Remember Love (film)

Do You Remember Love is a 1985 American made-for-television drama film starring Joanne Woodward and Richard Kiley. It won three Emmy Awards, the Humanitas Prize, the Writers Guild of America Award, and a Peabody Award.

Eye of the Tiger (film)

Eye of the Tiger is a 1986 American action drama film directed by Richard C. Sarafian, and stars Gary Busey, Yaphet Kotto, Denise Galik, Seymour Cassel, William Smith and Judith Barsi.


A familicide is a type of murder or murder-suicide in which a perpetrator kills multiple close family members in quick succession, most often children, relatives, spouse, siblings, or parents. In half the cases, the killer then kills themselves in a murder-suicide. If only the parents are killed, the case may also be referred to as a parricide. Where all members of a family are killed, the crime may be referred to as family annihilation.

Fatal Vision (miniseries)

Fatal Vision is a 1984 American television miniseries based on the account, in the book of the same name, of the murders in 1970 at Fort Bragg of the wife and daughters of U.S. Army officer Jeffrey R. MacDonald.

Judith (given name)

Judith is a feminine given name derived from the Hebrew name יְהוּדִית or Yehudit, meaning "woman of Judea". Judith appeared in the Old Testament as one of Esau's wives, while the deuterocanonical Book of Judith deals with a different Judith. It is in common usage in English, French, German, many Scandinavian languages, Dutch, and Hebrew.

The name was among the top 50 most popular given names for girls born in the United States between 1936-1956, but its popularity has since declined. It was the 893rd most popular name for baby girls born in the United States in 2012, down from 74th in 1960.

July 25

July 25 is the 206th day of the year (207th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 159 days remain until the end of the year.

June 6

June 6 is the 157th day of the year (158th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 208 days remain until the end of the year.

Kids Don't Tell

Kids Don't Tell is a 1985 American made-for-television drama film about child molestation starring Michael Ontkean and JoBeth Williams. The docudrama, which was directed by Oscar-nominated film editor Sam O'Steen (Chinatown, Postcards from the Edge), was broadcast on CBS on March 5, 1985.

List of fantasy films of the 1980s

A list of fantasy films released in the 1980s.

List of people whose parent committed suicide

The following is a list of people whose parent committed suicide.

Slam Dance (film)

Slam Dance is a 1987 thriller directed by Wayne Wang and starring Tom Hulce, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Virginia Madsen and Harry Dean Stanton. It was screened out of competition at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.

The Land Before Time

The Land Before Time is a 1988 animated adventure drama film directed and produced by Dragon's Lair co-creator Don Bluth and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall. The film stars the voices of Gabriel Damon, Candace Hutson, Judith Barsi and Will Ryan with narration provided by Pat Hingle.

Produced by the American companies Amblin Entertainment and Lucasfilm, and the American-Irish Sullivan Bluth Ltd., it features dinosaurs living in the prehistoric times. The plot concerns a young "Longneck" named Littlefoot, who is orphaned when his mother is killed by a "Sharptooth". Littlefoot flees famine and upheaval to search for the Great Valley, an area spared from devastation. On his journey, he meets four young companions: Cera the "Threehorn", Ducky the "Bigmouth", Petrie the "Flyer", and Spike the "Spiketail".The film explores issues of prejudice between the different species and the hardships they endure in their journey as they are guided by the spirit of Littlefoot's mother and forced to deal with the Sharptooth. This is the only Don Bluth film of the 1980s in which Dom DeLuise did not participate (instead, he starred in Disney's Oliver & Company that same year), and the only film in The Land Before Time series that is not a musical, as well as the only one to be released theatrically worldwide.

Released by Universal Pictures on November 18, 1988, the first film spawned a franchise with thirteen direct-to-video sequels and a television series as well as merchandise.

The Land Before Time (franchise)

The Land Before Time, is an American franchise of animated adventure films by Universal Pictures centered on dinosaurs. The series began in 1988 with the eponymous The Land Before Time, directed and produced by Don Bluth and executive produced by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. It was followed by a total of thirteen direct-to-video musical sequels, TV series, video games, soundtracks and related merchandising. Neither the sequels nor the series involve the participation of Bluth, Lucas, or Spielberg. All 14 films were released in a Complete Collection DVD set on June 14, 2016.

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