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Map of the Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands

History

Bikini Atoll, Nuclear Weapons Testing, and The Bikini. What do these three things have in common?

Well, firstly, Bikini Atoll is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. (Atolls are ring-shaped coral reefs that encircle a lagoon.) Secondly, this little tropical area underwent more than 20 nuclear weapons tests from 1946 through 1958 and is a symbol for the “nuclear age.” Thirdly, Louis Réard, who was actually a French car engineer, was running his mother’s lingerie boutique in Paris in 1946 and invented the two-piece swimsuit that exposed the navel . He named it after the Bikini Atoll atom bomb test. He believed his bathing suit would cause an explosion of excitement. Ah, that’s so French. However, it took until the 1950s and 1960s to become popular in the United States.

Notable women in the history of the bikini in the doo-wop era include  the following: Brigitte Bardot; Ursula Andress in Dr. No; Brian Hyland’s song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini;” Marilyn Monroe; Jayne Mansfield; Gina Lollobrigida; Jane Russell; the Beach Party movies (although Annette Funicello dressed modestly even for the beach); and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues.

Please click here to listen to Brian Hyland’s novelty song “It’s Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.

 

1 Comment

  1. […] After a few unsuccessful attempts, Hyland had a monster hit at 16 with “Itsy Bitsy Tennie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” which was written by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance (“Catch a Falling Star” and “Johnny Angel”). This novelty record soared to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #8 in the U.K., and #2 in Australia. It sold a then unheard-of million copies in a month and eventually more than two million total copies, which earned it an RIAA gold record. The song is performed in a cha-cha rhythm, punctuated by a wild cowbell part throughout the song. Also, the bikini bathing suit was still considered somewhat risque at the time, which also helped sales. If you would like to read a little bit about the history of the Bikini bathing suit, please click here. […]

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