* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I have avoided talking about this famous Judith because the story is disturbing. But to not pay tribute is demeaning to her memory – and memory is what keeps her spirit alive. Today I will talk about Judith Barsi.
Judith Barsi was a child actor, discovered at age 5 at a skating rink. She was short for her age (she stood 3 ft 8 in at age 10) which makes for good child stars who can act older than they look. By the time she entered fourth grade, she was earning an estimated $100,000 a year. Barsi appearred in more than 70 commercials, 18 guest-starring roles on television, and 6 films. These included Jaws: The Revenge (1987), the voice of Ducky in The Land Before Time (1988) and the lead voice of Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go To Heaven (1989).
Her first two roles in television films were in Fatal Vision – about a family murdered by the father – and Kids Don’t Tell – about child abuse. Art imitates life, and sometimes life imitates art.
Judith’s father, Jozsef, was unemployed, abusive, alcoholic and paranoid. Before leaving to shoot Jaws: The Revenge in the Bahamas, József threatened Judith with a knife, telling her, “If you decide not to come back, I will cut your throat.” Due to her father’s abuse, Barsi began exhibiting disturbing behavior which included plucking out all her eyelashes. Her mother, Maria, took Judith to a child psychologist after breaking down in front of her agent, she was identified with severe physical and emotional abuse, and the case was reported to Child Protective Services. However, the investigation was dropped after Maria assured the case worker that she intended to start divorce proceedings against József and to move into an apartment rented as a daytime haven.
On July 25, 1988, Jozsef shot Judith in the head while she slept – after which he shot Maria, who also died. He then poured gasoline on the bodies and set them on fire before shooting himself.
All Dogs Go to Heaven was released in 1989, a year and a half after her murder.