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Judith Barsi 1978-1988
 


Country : San Fernando Valley, CA
Profession : Actress
Date of birth : 1978-06-06
Date of death : 1988-07-25
Cause of Death : Murder

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Judith Eva Barsi (June 6, 1978 – 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.

Early life and career

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 Barsi was 5 years old, she was discovered at a skating rink. Looking younger than she was, she was mistaken for a 3-year-old. She went on to appear in over 70 commercials and soon appeared in films. Later in her life, Barsi had growth hormone injections to encourage her growth.

Parental abuse

As Barsi became more famous, her father Jozsef, an alcoholic and unemployed plumber, became increasingly abusive, jealous, and paranoid. He would mentally abuse her 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 or movie shoot and never come back. Barsi 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. Jozsef would often stay home drunk and refused to let Maria work. The family was on welfare for a brief period until Barsi's career started taking off in around 1986. By the time she entered 4th grade, she was earning an estimated $100,000 a year which helped her buy the family a 3-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.

Death

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; 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 2nd-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.

Legacy

Barsi 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, Washington, who had tutored Barsi on the set of one of her movies.

Barsi'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".

Irene Cara and Freddie Jackson reportedly recorded the All Dogs Go to Heaven theme song "Love Survives" for Barsi (the film, in which she voices the orphaned Anne-Marie, was released a year and a half after her death in 1988).

Filmography

Film

Year

Film

Role

Notes

1986

Eye of the Tiger

Jennifer Matthews

1987

Slam Dance

Bean

Jaws: The Revenge

Thea Brody

1988

The Land Before Time

Ducky

Voice

1989

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Anne-Marie

Voice

Television

Year

Title

Role

Notes

1984

Fatal Vision

Kimberly (age 3)

Miniseries

1985

Kids Don't Tell

Jennifer Ryan

Television movie

Do You Remember Love

Kathleen

Television movie

The New Twilight Zone

Bertie

Segment: "A Little Peace and Quiet"

There Were Times, Dear

Molly Reed

Television movie

The Fall Guy

Little Girl

Episode: "Escape Claus"

1986

Remington Steele

Laurie Beth Piper

Episode: "Suburban Steele"

Punky Brewster

Anna

Episodes: "Changes, part 2"
"Changes, part 3"

Cheers

Child #1

Episode: "Relief Bartender"

Cagney & Lacey

Shauna Bard

Episode: "Disenfranchised"

The New Gidget

Little Girl

Episode: "It's Only Rock & Roll"

1987

Destination America

Amy

Television movie

1988

St. Elsewhere

Debbie Oppenheimer

Episode: "The Abby Singer Show"

ABC Afterschool Special

Billie Foster

Episode: "A Family Again"

1988-1992

Growing Pains

Little Carol

Episodes: "Graduation Day"
"The Last Picture Show, part 2"

 

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