Land Before Time Wiki
Land Before Time Wiki

Judith Eva Barsi (born June 6, 1978 - died July 25, 1988) was an American child actress. She was small in stature and often played characters younger than her actual age. On July 25, 1988, at the age of 10, she was murdered, along with her mother Maria Barsi, by her father, Jozsef Barsi.


Judith Barsi was the daughter of Hungarian immigrants Jozsef Barsi and Maria Barsi (née Benko), who had both fled the 1956 Soviet occupation of Hungary and then emigrated to Los Angeles, California shortly before the birth of their daughter. Her mother dreamed of her becoming an actress, as she once made an effort to do so for herself. When Judith was five years old, she was "discovered" at a skating rink. Looking younger than she was, she was mistaken for a three-year-old.[1] She went on to appear in over 70 commercials and soon appeared in films. Later in her life, Judith had hormone injections to encourage her growth.

Parental abuse

As Judith became more famous, her father Jozsef, an alcoholic and unemployed plumber, became increasingly abusive, jealous, and paranoid.[1] He would mentally abuse Judith, and once held a knife to her throat while threatening to kill her, because he was convinced that his wife and daughter would leave for a photo shoot or movie shoot and never come back.[1] Judith was taken to a child psychologist after breaking down in front of her agent. The psychologist identified severe mental, physical and emotional abuse, and reported her findings to the authorities. Nearing her final months, Judith one day plucked all her eyelashes and removed the whiskers from her cat; this was an act brought on by severe stress from her father's abuse.[1]

Jozsef would often stay home drunk and refused to let Maria work, due to which the family was on welfare for a brief period until Judith's career started taking off around 1986. By the time she entered fourth grade, she was earning an estimated $100,000 a year, which helped her to buy the family a three-bedroom house in the West Hills section of Los Angeles. Jozsef suffered from paranoia, and had their house surrounded by a high-fence which could only be opened from inside the house.


Jozsef remained a recluse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter many times. Child Protective Services was called numerous times, but as Maria was reluctant to press any charges, the case was never followed up. Maria rented an apartment for her daughter and herself as a daytime safe haven away from Jozsef. On July 27, 1988, the bodies of Judith and Maria Barsi were discovered by fire fighters responding to a call from a neighbor reporting a fire at the Barsi house.[1] The date of the murder has never been determined; the police have said that Jozsef could have killed his wife and child on July 25 or July 26.[1] It is believed that, after realizing that Maria was planning to leave him, Jozsef entered Judith's second-floor bedroom and shot her in the head; he then shot Maria in the same way as she ran down the corridor toward her daughter's room.[1] He then drenched the bodies in gasoline and set the house on fire before shooting himself in the garage.


Maria and Judith Barsi's gravestones (Maria's on the left; Judith's on the right).

Judith and her mother were buried in an unmarked grave at the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. In June 2004, a fund was set up to get headstones for their graves. The fund was spearheaded by Nancy Kelly of Yelm, WA.[2] Judith's marker was placed on August 23, 2004 while one for her mother was placed on January 28, 2005. Future donations will go toward donating Beanie Babies to hospitalized children. Judith's marker reads "Our Concrete Angel - Yep Yep Yep" in reference to a popular song about child abuse and her character Ducky's catchphrase from The Land Before Time. Her mother's marker reads "The wind beneath JEB's (Judith's initials) wings - Yep Yep Yep".[1]

Those of Judith's toys which had survived the fire her father had set were later donated to the Goodwill.[1]

Irene Cara and Freddie Jackson reportedly recorded the All Dogs Go to Heaven theme song "Love Survives" for Judith Barsi. The film, in which she voices the orphaned Anne-Marie, was released a year and a half after her death in 1989.

Role in The Land Before Time

The fictional character Ducky, in Don Bluth's 1988 theatrical animated hit, The Land Before Time, was Judith Barsi's favorite acting performance.

One of Judith's most famous roles was voicing the character Ducky in the original The Land Before Time. When she was questioned about it in an interview, Barsi stated that of all her acting roles, both live-action and animated, Ducky was her favourite.[3] The Sullivan-Bluth Studio was so enthralled by Barsi's performance as Ducky, that it lead Don Bluth to hire her as the voice for Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven,[4] which was her final role before her death.


Year Film Role Notes
1984 Fatal Vision Kimberly (age 3) Miniseries
1985 Kids Don't Tell Jennifer Ryan TV film
Do You Remember Love Kathleen TV film
There Were Times, Dear Molly Reed TV film
1986 Eye of the Tiger Jennifer Matthews
1987 Destination America TV film
Slam Dance Bean
Jaws: The Revenge Thea Brody
1988 A Family Again Billie Foster ABC After School Special
The Land Before Time Ducky voice only
1989 All Dogs Go to Heaven Anne-Marie voice only

TV appearances

Year Series Role Ep. # Episode Airdate
1985 The New Twilight Zone Bertie #1.2 "A Little Peace and Quiet" September 27, 1985
The Fall Guy Little Girl #5.8 "Escape Claus" December 21, 1985
1986 Punky Brewster Anna #2.18 "Changes" part 2 February 9, 1986
#2.19 "Changes" part 3 February 16, 1986
Remington Steele Laurie Beth #4.13 "Suburban Steele" February 11, 1986
Cheers Child #1 #4.23 "Relief Bartender" March 27, 1986
Cagney & Lacey Shauna Bard #6.4 "Disenfranchised" October 27, 1986
1988 Growing Pains Little Carol #3.26 "Graduation Day" May 4, 1988
St. Elsewhere Debbie Oppenheimer #6.20 "The Abby Singer Show" May 18, 1988


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Judith Barsi in Memorium Retrieved on October 4th, 2008.
  2. Nancy Kelly's Profile on Retrieved on February 10th, 2013.
  3. Judith Barsi at the Internet Movie Database.
  4. Jerry Beck; The Animated Movie Guide

Further reading

External links

Preceded by:
The Land Before Time voice actors/actresses Succeeded by:
Heather Hogan