The Story of Judith Barsi

(Image via Wikipedia)

(Image via Wikipedia)

Kaydence Royland

CW: mentions of abuse and violence

Have you ever heard the story of Judith Barsi and her family? If not, you’re going to be surprised. Judith Barsi was in one of my favorite movies, and I wish she was still here with us and could continue her dream of acting.

On June 6, 1978, in Los Angeles, California, Judith Barsi was born. She was the only child that her mother Maria and her father József had. In the 1980s she started her career on television. She was in Jaws: The Revenge, The Land Before, and All Dogs Go to Heaven. By the time she was in fourth grade, she had to take hormone shots because she wasn’t growing like the other kids her age. She was so petite that when she was 10, she was still playing 7 and 8-year-olds in movies and shows. As Barsi’s career took off, her father József, who was an angry alcoholic, became jealous of Judith and her career, and he would threaten to kill himself and his family. In December 1986, Judith’s mother Maria reported the abuse and threats, but the police found no sign of any abuse. Even after the incident with the police, József continued to threaten Maria and Judith. He also hid the telegram informing her that someone in her family had died to make sure Maria didn’t leave the United States with Judith. 

The violence continued, and Judith told her friend that her father threw pot and pans at her, making her nose bleed. Because of all the abuse, Judith started to exhibit disturbing behavior such as plucking out her eyelashes and pulling out her cat’s whiskers. In May 1988, Judith broke down in front of her agent Ruth Hansen. She was taken to a child psychologist who identified that Judith suffered from severe physical and emotional abuse, and she reported her findings to child protective services. The investigation was stopped because Maria said she was going to divorce József and move to the apartment she and Judith stayed in during the day as a haven from József, but she didn’t because she was worried about losing the family home and belongings. 

On July 28, 1988, the Los Angeles Times reported three people were found dead in a murder-suicide; the bodies were Judith Barsi, her mother Maria, and her father József. Maria and Judith were shot in the head by József while they were sleeping. The article stated that gasoline was poured on Judith and Maria’s body by József and he was found in the garage dead by self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Their neighbor, Eunice Daly, said she heard gunshots and called the police. Maria and Judith were buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. 

Judith’s last film, All Dogs Go to Heaven, was released in November 1989. The director had an interview and stated that Judith was astonishing and that she understood verbal instructions. He also stated that he intended to feature her extensively in his future productions. In the article Judith Barsi, it states that the closing credits song, Love Survives, was dedicated to Judith Barsi in memory of her and her grave can still be visited by those who were touched by her work.