Drew Barrymore’s Famous Family Has Ties to The Idaho State Penitentiary
The Barrymore name has deep roots in Old Hollywood - and even some of those roots linger over into the Treasure Valley. Ethel Barrymore, Drew Barrymore's great aunt was a huge A-list celebrity and trendsetter back in the early 1900s and she has an interesting connection to Boise and one of the Gem State's most infamous killers.
Working as an actress, Ethel came to Boise with a touring New York play. The trial of Harry Orchard was also happening during the same time and caught the attention of Ms. Barrymore, as well as the rest of the entire nation.
Albert Edward Horsley, who went under the name of Harry Orchard, was a miner on trial for the political assassination of former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg. He was eventually convicted and found guilty after confessing to killing Steunenberg with a bomb. Ethel Barrymore found the killer to be "extraordinary." I assume she shared the same kind of interest that we do with modern day crime stories and she wanted to meet him.
Calvin Cobb, owner of the Idaho Statesman, sort of chaperoned Ethel through this experience inviting her to the trial and then eventually bringing her to the Idaho State Penitentiary so she could meet Harry Orchard in person. This would be a very exclusive meet up on both ends as no one except for court officials and his guards were technically allowed to see him.
The story goes when the two met Orchard said "I've heard a lot about you Miss Barrymore." She replied, "I've heard a certain amount about you."