Tragic Child Star #2: Judith Barsi

screen cap via Judith Barsi Tribute.

Judith Barsi
June 6, 1978 in Los Angeles, California
July 25, 1988 in Canoga Park, California
Notable Roles
Ducky in The Land Before Time (1988)
Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
Best Known For:
Judith Barsi's time in the spotlight was brief, but she touched many children growing up in the late 1980s with her charming vocal performances in All Dogs Go to Heaven and The Land Before Time, both of which were released after her death. During her four years as an actress, Barsi appeared in over 70 commercials, and appeared on television shows like The Twilight Zone and Punky Brewster.

Famously Linked.

Barsi guest-starred on an episode of popular '80s sitcom Growing Pains, playing a little version of Carol Seaver (Tracey Gold's character). Gold later delivered the eulogy at Barsi's funeral with two of her sisters.

The Story.
Barsi was the only daughter of Hungarian immigrants Maria Benko, a stage mother, and Jozsef Barsi, an unemployed plumber. After Barsi's career began to take off (she was, at the time of her death, earning a six-figure salary), Jozsef reportedly became alcoholic and abusive, threatening his daughter and wife with murder according to many accounts.

Family friends of the Barsis told the Los Angeles Times that Judith often told them she was afraid to go home. In the months before her death, Barsi reportedly plucked out all of her eyelashes and pulled the whiskers off of one of her cats in a moment of obvious distress.

Happy Ending?
Despite a child psychologist's urgent report of "extreme verbal, mental, and emotional problems" to Children's Services, Judith was not removed from her abusive home environment. Judith's mother found an apartment for herself and her daughter, and planned to move out. Tragically, Jozsef Barsi shot and murdered both Judith and her mother on July 25, 1988, before they were to leave their San Fernando Valley home. He later shot himself after setting his wife and daughter's bodies on fire.

Judith and her mother were buried next to one another in unmarked graves. Years later, fans touched by Judith started a fund to pay for headstones for her and her mother's graves. By 2004, they had raised enough money for headstones for both mother and daughter.

Judith's death called much-needed attention to the overburdened and underfunded Los Angeles Department of Children's Services, which had dropped its inquiry regarding Barsi's abuse mere months before the murders.

Tragic Child Stars

  Heather O'Rourke

Blond actress Heather O'Rourke became one of the most iconic faces of the 1980s with her starring role as Carol Anne Freeling in the Poltergeist series. A simple misdiagnosis is believed to have caused her death before the third installment of the film hit theaters.
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