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.

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.

A 1957 Yucca Flat nuclear blast.

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.

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

A second photo of Merlin, a Copa Room showgirl.

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