Judith Barsi

Judith Eva Barsi was a promising child star before her father József Barsi murdered her and her mother Maria inside their Los Angeles home on July 25, 1988.

Judith Barsi appeared to have it all on the outside. She had a number of film and television roles before the age of ten, appearing in Cheers and Jaws: The Revenge, as well as contributing her voice to animated films like The Land Before Time. Her burgeoning star, however, coincided with her father’s abuse.

József Barsi tormented his family behind the scenes. He mistreated Judith as well as her mother, Maria Virovacz Barsi, and even told people about his murderous intentions towards them. In 1988, József gruesomely followed through with his threats.

This is the heartbreaking tale of the death of Judith Barsi, the talented child actor slain by her own father.

From The Child Of Immigrants To A Hollywood Star

Judith Eva Barsi looked destined to live a different life than her parents from the start. On June 6, 1978, she was born in sunny Los Angeles, California. József Barsi and Maria Virovacz Barsi, on the other hand, had fled Hungary during the Soviet occupation in 1956.

Maria, inspired by the stars of adjacent Hollywood, was determined to steer her daughter towards a career as an actress. She taught Judith proper posture, poise, and communication skills.

“I told her I wasn’t going to waste my time,” Maria Barsi’s brother, Joseph Weldon, recounted. “I told her her chances of success were one in 10,000.”

judith barsi
Judith Barsi (left) with Ted Danson on Cheers in 1986.

Maria did, however, succeed in a burst of Hollywood magic. A team discovered Judith Barsi at an ice rink, as is common in Los Angeles, where something is always filming. They invited the small blonde girl smoothly gliding on the ice to join their commercial after being enchanted by her.

Judith’s acting career took off from there. She appeared in scores of ads, appeared on TV shows such as Cheers, and landed roles in films such as Jaws: The Revenge. In the 1984 miniseries Fatal Vision, Judith played a daughter murdered by her father.

Her diminutive stature wowed casting directors since it allowed her to play younger characters. Judith was so little that she had to be given hormone injections to help her grow.

“When she was 10, she was still playing 7, 8,” Ruth Hansen, her agent, recalled. She described Judith Barsi as a “happy, bouncy little kid.”

Judith’s accomplishment aided her family’s well-being. Her parents utilised her earnings of around $100,000 per year to purchase a three-bedroom house at 22100 Michale Street in the Canoga Park community on the western side of the San Fernando Valley. Maria’s fondest hopes appeared to be coming true, and Judith appeared to be bound for success. Judith’s father, József Barsi, however, cast a terrible shadow over her youth.

Inside Judith Barsi’s Death at the Hands of Her Father

Judith Barsi’s home life became darker as her star shone brighter. Outside of the spotlight, Judith and Maria Virovacz Barsi were subjected to abuse at the hands of József.

József, a frequent drinker and quick to rage, directed his rage towards his wife and daughter. He threatened to kill Maria or perhaps Judith in order to make Maria suffer. József’s buddy Peter Kivlen recalls him telling him hundreds of times that he intended to kill his wife.

“I’d try to soothe him. “I’d tell him, ‘What will happen to your young one if you kill her?'” Kivlen stated. József’s reaction was terrifying. “I wanna kill her too,” he said, according to Kivlen.

József Barsi once snatched a kite from Judith. When Judith expressed concern that he would break it, József referred to his daughter as a “spoiled brat” who didn’t know how to share. He shattered the kite to smithereens.

József once threatened Judith with a knife as she prepared to go to the Bahamas to film Jaws: The Revenge. “If you don’t come back, I’ll slit your throat,” he said.

Weldon recalled overhearing a conversation between father and daughter shortly after, while Judith and Maria were visiting him in New York. “Remember what I told you before you went,” he recalls József Barsi remarked. Judith came out crying.

Soon, Judith’s domestic abuse began to infiltrate into her daily life. She shaved her eyelashes and her cat’s whiskers. Judith expressed her fear of returning home to her friends, stating, “My daddy is drunk every day, and I know he wants to kill my mother.” And, just before an audition in May 1988, she burst into tears, alarmed her agency.

“It was then that I realised how bad Judith was,” Hansen recalled. “She was sobbing uncontrollably that she couldn’t speak.”

Nothing changed despite Hansen’s insistence that Judith Barsi see a child psychiatrist, who reported the situation to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Maria was hesitant to leave her house and husband, both out of concern for her safety and a desire to maintain the life she’d created.

“I can’t because he’s going to come after us and kill us, and he’s threatened to burn down the house,” she explained to a neighbour.

Nonetheless, Maria Barsi made cautious steps to flee her abusive husband. She began to consider divorce from József and even rented an apartment in Panorama City near the movie studios so she could escape with Judith while she filmed. However, Maria’s hesitancy to leave her marriage proved disastrous.

On July 27, 1988, about 8:30 a.m., one of the Barsis’ neighbours heard an explosion next door.

“As I went in to phone 911, my first thought was, ‘He’s done it. “He’s killed them and set fire to the house, exactly as he promised,” a neighbour told the Los Angeles Times.

That is exactly what József Barsi had done. He appeared to have murdered Judith and Maria just a few days prior, most likely on July 25. Judith Barsi was found in her bed, while Maria Virovacz Barsi was located in the corridor. Both had been shot and doused in gasoline, which József lit before killing himself in the garage.

In Memory Of The Lovely Judith Barsi

Judith Barsi passed away in July of 1988, yet her acting career continued on. After her passing, two of her animated features, The Land Before Time (1988) and All Dogs Go to Heaven (1990), were released (1989).

Judith’s headstone in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles bears the inscription, “yes, yep, yep!,” the catchphrase of her Land Before Time dinosaur character Ducky.

Judith also played Anne-Marie, an orphan with the ability to communicate with animals, in the film All Dogs Go to Heaven. The credits roll to “Love Survives,” a song written and performed in tribute to Judith, who passed away during production.

Yet Judith Barsi’s time in the spotlight had just begun before her untimely passing. Bonnie Gold, Judith’s acting agency’s publicist, said, “She was incredibly successful, with every door open to her.” Nobody knows where she might have gone if she had the chance.

Some say Judith’s ghost is still lurking about the same house where she died. The new owners of the Barsi house in 2020 claimed to have felt chilly spots throughout the house and that the garage door moved open and closed by itself.

A team arrived on the TV show Murder House Flip to make the colours more cheerful and to let in more natural light. The current owners claim that the remodelling made the house less spooky, regardless of whether it had ever been haunted before.

But in the end, it’s Judith Barsi’s movies, TV shows, and ads that keep her memory alive. Today, her appearances may be unsettling, but they perfectly express Judith’s innate skill. If her dad hadn’t put out that flame, it may have burnt brightly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *