Real Name: Mildred Snelling or Margaretha Gertz vanDorn
Minerva was one of the first successful female escape artists.
Starting her career in the mid 1890's in Europe, she created quite a sensation with her handcuff escapes.
In 1907, she married fellow vaudeville performer Edward Vano, and the couple moved to the United States. Minerva's act was much more popular, and Vano followed her around the country, acting as her "manager".
Minerva was as ambitious as she was talented. In 1908, Harry Houdini was dismayed to find that she was performing a version of his trademark Milk Can Escape trick. And she was getting more attention for doing it- at the end of the trick, she would emerge from the curtains fully drenched, quite a sensational and scandalous sight for the times.
By then, Minerva had also become involved with Guy Jarrett, an illusion builder and outspoken critic of Harry Houdini.
In 1909, she divorced Vano and in 1911 she married Jarrett. With both having such strong personalities, the marriage dissolved by 1919.
Though there were a number of Houdini imitators in the early part of the 20th century, Minerva was one of the most memorable.
Credit: This biography originated on MagicTricks.com. Please credit this source if you use this information.