Miss Atomic (pageants)

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Miss Atomic pageants are held in the United States, generally, in Nevada, to celebrate the City of Las Vegas's modernity.

The five "Miss Atomics"[edit]

The pageants were "inspired by the cultural phenomena, Las Vegas decided to combine two of its major attractions—nuclear bombs and showgirls—into a beauty contest".[1] There were only four "showgirl-turned-beauty-queens" and "there was no single Miss Atomic Bomb beauty pageant, and most of the queens were simply showgirls chosen for their radiant ... looks".[2] "The queens came about in an only loosely related manner: atomic-themed, usually of the mushroom cloud variety, costumes."[2][3]

  • The first atomic pin-up girl, Candyce King, appeared on May 9, 1952, in the Evening Telegraph (Dixon, Illinois) and the Day Record (Statesville, North Carolina) papers as "Miss Atomic Blast".[2][4]
  • In the spring of 1953, the city of North Las Vegas chose Paula Harris as Miss North Las Vegas of 1953 and gave her the nickname "Miss A-Bomb".[2][4]
  • In 1955, Operation Cue drew attention when it was delayed multiple times because of high winds and was nicknamed "Operation Mis-Cue." Linda Lawson was crowned "Miss Cue" on May 1, 1955. The title was "to illustrate another mis-firing of the Operation Cue Bomb." Lawson's "crown" was a mushroom cloud.[2][4][5][6]
  • The last and most famous was Lee Merlin, crowned as "Miss Atomic Bomb", coinciding with Operation Plumbbob, while wearing a cotton mushroom cloud on the front of her swimsuit. The popular photograph by Don English was distributed nationally. She is currently "Miss Atomic".[2][4][7][8] Don English of the Las Vegas Sun photographed her.[3][6][9]

In popular culture[edit]

Several references to the Atomic pageants have appeared in various media over the years.

  • The Killers song, Miss Atomic Bomb[2][6]
  • In Michael Mann's 1960s-set police drama Crime Story, in one of the later episodes, the photograph of Lee A. Merlin, as Miss Atom Bomb, shows up in the background in the bar patronized by the detectives.[9]

See also[edit]

Miss Atom


  1. ^ Zimmerman, Jess (16 March 2013). "Odd Contests: Miss Atomic Bomb". Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Wheeler, Anne. "4 Atomic-Themed 1950s Beauty Queens". Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Copa Room showgirl Lee Merlin". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "Miss Atom Bomb" (PDF). DOE. August 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  5. ^ Lotgering S. "Winner of 'Miss Atomic Bomb' Pageant". Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Ian (15 January 2014). "A is for Miss Atomic Bomb". Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Miss Atomic Bomb, 1957". 6 March 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b GEERHART, BILL (5 June 2010). "Miss Atomic Bomb (Lee Merlin) Update!". CONELRAD ADJACENT. Retrieved 12 May 2014.

External links[edit]