Judith was the daughter of Hungarian immigrants Jozsef Barsi and Maria Benko, who had both fled the 1956 Soviet occupation of Hungary and then emigrated to Los Angeles, California shortly before Judith was born. Her mother dreamt 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. She went on to appear in over 70 commercials and soon appeared in films.
As Judith became more famous, her father Jozsef, an alcoholic and unemployed plumber, became increasingly abusive and paranoid. He would mentally abuse Judith and once held a knife to her throat while threatening to kill her, for he was convinced that his wife and daughter would leave for a photo shoot or movie shoot and never come back. Jozsef would often stay home drunk and refused to let Maria work. The family was on welfare for a brief period until Judith's career started taking off in around 1986. By the time she entered fourth grade, she was earning an estimated $100,000 a year which helped her buy the family a four-bedroom house in West Hills, California.
Jozsef continued to remain a recluse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter hundreds of 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 and Judith as a daytime safe haven away from her father. However, on July 25, 1988, Jozsef entered Judith's bedroom and shot her in the head before shooting his wife. He then drenched the bodies in gasoline and set the house on fire before finally shooting himself in the garage.
Judith and her mother were buried in an unmarked grave at the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles. On June 2004, a fund was set up to get them headstones for their graves. 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.
- Fatal Vision (1984) (TV)
- There Were Times, Dear (1985) (TV)
- Do You Remember Love (1985) (TV)
- Kids Don't Tell (1985) (TV)
- Eye of the Tiger (1986)
- Slamdance (1987)
- Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
- A Family Again (1988) (TV)
- The Land Before Time (1988) (voice)
- All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) (voice)