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All Dogs Go To Heaven's Behind-The-Scenes Tragedy Is Much Sadder Than The Film

Don Bluth's 1989 animated film "All Dogs Go to Heaven" may be a children's movie at its core, but it is packed with surprisingly adult moments and a generally darker tone than your typical kid-oriented project. As the title suggests, the film's main character is a dog named Charlie B. Barkin (voiced by Burt Reynolds), a German Shepherd with a shady reputation who is joined in his path to redemption by Anne-Marie (Judith Barsi), an orphan girl gifted with the ability to talk to animals. While its ending might not be the saddest in cinematic history, the movie packs a strong emotional punch not only for young viewers but arguably for adults as well. 

Unfortunately, the behind-the-scenes events during the making of "All Dogs Go to Heaven" were far more tragic than the film's many tear-jerking moments. On July 27, 1988, more than a year before the movie premiered, Barsi and her parents, Joszef and Maria, were found dead in their San Fernando Valley, California, home, following an apparent murder-suicide. The young actor was only 10 years old. Allegedly, family patriarch Joszef shot his wife and daughter before pouring gasoline on their bodies and setting the house on fire. Joszef, who was described as an abusive husband and father, would then take his own life.

Aside from "All Dogs Go to Heaven," Judith Barsi appeared in 1987's "Jaws IV: The Revenge," which marked her film debut, and guested on a number of popular TV shows, including "Growing Pains" and "St. Elsewhere." She also did voice work in another memorable Bluth animated project prior to her passing.

Barsi also voiced Ducky in The Land Before Time

One year before "All Dogs Go to Heaven," Don Bluth released another movie that ranks among the top animated films of all time, and it also featured the voice-acting talents of Judith Barsi. The young actor voiced Ducky in "The Land Before Time," where her character was among a group of young dinosaurs in search of the mythical Great Valley. Ducky's catchphrase, "Yep! Yep! Yep!," would become so beloved among viewers that it was included at the bottom of Barsi's gravestone.

Speaking to German publication Yiya, Bluth had nothing but good things to say about his time working with Barsi. "She was absolutely astonishing," the filmmaker said. "She understood verbal direction, even for the most sophisticated situations. We loved working with her." And while he didn't dwell much on the topic, he also commented on the child actor's death in an interview with Meridian Magazine in 2012. Per Bluth, the tragedy greatly affected those who worked on "All Dogs Go to Heaven," so much so that production was momentarily paused. "We couldn't listen to the voice," he explained. "Everybody would start tearing up ... so it stopped everything for a while."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse or is struggling or in crisis, contact the relevant sources below.