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. After years of physical and mental abuse, she and her mother were shot and killed by her father, József, in a murder–suicide.
Life and career
Barsi was the daughter of Hungarian immigrants József Barsi and Maria Barsi (née Benkő), who had both fled the 1956 Soviet occupation of Hungary and then immigrated to Los Angeles, California shortly before the birth of their daughter. Maria Barsi had aspired to be an actress herself, but later hoped that her daughter would be one, instead. Judith was discovered at a skating rink when she was five years old, but could still pass for three. 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.
As Barsi became more famous, her father József, 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 physical and emotional abuse, and reported her findings to the authorities. József 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 1984. 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. József suffered from paranoia and had their house surrounded by a high-fence which could only be opened from inside the house. József 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 József.
On July 25, 1988, József shot Judith in the head with a pistol while she was asleep, in her room. Maria, hearing the gunshot, rushed down the hall to check on Judith, where József met her and shot her as well, leaving a large amount of blood throughout her bedroom. He left the bodies for three days, before drenching them both in gasoline and setting the house on fire. Finally, he went into the garage and killed himself.
Barsi and her mother were buried in unmarked graves at the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. In June 2004, a fund was set up by Barsi's fan club to get headstones for Judith's and her mother's 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. Future donations will go toward donating Beanie Babies to hospitalized children. Her marker reads " In Memory of the Lovely Judith Eva Barsi *Our Concrete Angel* Yep! Yep! Yep!" in reference to Martina McBride's song about child abuse, and her character Ducky's catchphrase from The Land Before Time.
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 in 1989, a year and a half after her death).
|1986||Eye of the Tiger||Jennifer Matthews|
|Jaws: The Revenge||Thea Brody|
|1988||The Land Before Time||Ducky the Saurolophus||Voice|
|1989||All Dogs Go to Heaven||Anne-Marie||Voice|
|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|
|1987–1988||The Tracey Ullman Show||Karen||Episodes: Episode #2.3|
|1988||St. Elsewhere||Debbie Oppenheimer||Episode: "The Abby Singer Show"|
|ABC Afterschool Special||Billie Foster||Episode: "A Family Again"|
|1988–1992||Growing Pains||Young Carol||Episodes: "Graduation Day"|
"The Last Picture Show, part 2"
- REDIRECT Template:IMDb name
- Judith Barsi at TV.com
- Judith Barsi In Memoriam
- The Official Judith Barsi Memorial Site
- Judith Barsi at Find a Grave