This article may be shorter than my others, for the most tragic of reasons. The reason is that Judith Barsi didn't get to live long enough to have a long article detailing her life. She was born to Hungarian immigrants in 1978. Her mother, Maria, began grooming her for stardom at a young age. Her father, Joe, was said to treasure her, but he was also an alcoholic with a trigger temper. Her Hollywood story begins like one of the old myths. She was discovered at an ice skating rink where a commercial was being filmed. The people making the commercial were so taken with the 5 year old that they cast her in the commercial. She went on to do 72 commercials.
She also did t.v. shows like Cheers, St. Elsewhere, Punky Brewster and the 1985 version of The Twilight Zone. She also made a t.v. movie that proved to be sadly prophetic. It was the true story of a little girl who was was murdered by her father alongside her mother and sister. If your morbid curiosity has been aroused the title of that is Fatal Vision. She was beginning to get roles in feature films as well, both live action (Jaws: The Revenge) and animated (All Dogs Go To Heaven, The Land Before Time).
Judith was frightened of her father Joe, and told people that he was going to kill her mother. When she went to the Bahamas to film the Jaws sequel he threatened her with a knife, telling her he would cut her throat if she didn't return. Joe told a friend that he would kill Maria and himself. When asked what would happen to Judith if he did that, his reply was that he'd have to kill her too. The authorities were warned about Joe, but there was an odd reluctance on both their part and Maria's to take any action. Maria didn't want to give up the small luxury that Judith's success had brought them. As for Children's Services, while a spokesperson said they were disturbed by the circumstances the statement was made "We can't save every child."
They certainly did not save Judith. In July of 1988 her father murdered her and her mother, then turned the gun on himself. Judith's body was found in her canopy bed. A moth before she had turned 10 years old. A few months later the world was charmed by her performance as Ducky in The Land Before Time. A year after that they were charmed again by her turn as Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go To Heaven. She wanted to continue working as a voice actor because she really enjoyed it. When she was killed she was scheduled for an audition for a new Hannah Barbera cartoon series. The saddest part of her story is that even her tragic death wasn't enough to make people realize that we should take repeated threats of murder seriously.
© 2022 Gracchus Gruad