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Did Atomic Bombs Always Terrify People?

Back in the 1950s, in the "anything goes" town of Las Vegas, the atom bomb and so-called blonde (or brunette) bombshells came together in a strange mix of popular culture and weapons of mass destruction. At that time, the public was fascinated by the nuclear tests being performed at the Nevada Test Site, and tourists visited nearby Las Vegas, where there has never been a shortage of showgirls, to embrace this new form of raw energy. Thus, after Paula Harris was declared Miss North Las Vegas at the 1953 beauty contest, her nickname, not surprisingly, became Miss A-Bomb.

Back when life was a blast:

  • But Harris was not the first atomic pin-up girl. Candyce King appeared on 9 May 1952 in the Dixon (Illinois) Evening Telegraph and the Statesville (N.C.) Day Record as Miss Atomic Blast.

  • In 1955, an atomic test program called Operation Cue drew attention when it was delayed multiple times because of high winds. In May of that year, Linda Lawson was crowned Miss Cue, and her crown was shape like a mushroom cloud.

  • Lee A. Merlin was crowned Miss Atomic Bomb to coincide with the series of nuclear tests known as Operation Plumbbob in 1957. Merlin, the last atomic beauty queen, wore a cotton "mushroom cloud" attached to the front of her swimsuit.

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