Lee Merlin, Miss Atomic Bomb, 1957

The pageant was created to celebrate the continuous nuclear testing at Yucca Flat, Nevada, a mere 65 miles from Las Vegas.

Merlin, in a cotton mushroom cloud bikini, was the last and most famous Miss Atomic Bomb — who were all Vegas showgirls.

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Above-ground nuclear testing was a major Las Vegas public attraction during the late 1950s, and hotels capitalized on the craze by hosting nuclear bomb watch parties.

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A 1957 Yucca Flat nuclear blast.

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July 5, 1957: The largest (at the time) US continental atmospheric nuclear test, over Yucca Flat — a closed desert drainage basin sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas. Referred to as “the most irradiated, nuclear-blasted spot on the face of the earth”, Yucca Flat was the testing ground – both in the air and under the surface of the flat, sandy soil – for 739 nuclear tests from October of 1951 to September of 1992.
Via 1957 Time Capsule.

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Former “Girl Next Door” Holly Madison recreated the photo last year for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

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A second photo of Merlin, a Copa Room showgirl.

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