Spring Fever!: Felicia Atkins, Miss April 1958

I was feeling down, but I’m pulling myself out of it. I need to have more faith that things will work out for the best, for one thing, and for another, holy cannoli, is it ever a gorgeous day out there! I’ve been sitting on some of these shots for just about forever. I love this shoot. Lots of red clothes, cute hats, and opera-style makeup? Yes, please — I am a big These Pictures Guy from Way Back! Miss April 1958 is the lovely and talented Felicia Atkins.

Photographed by Bruno Bernard and Bill Bridges.

An awesome vintage brunette wonder from Down Under, Ms. Atkins still holds the record today for being the longest consecutively-employed showgirl in the history of the storied Folies-Bergère Revue at the Las Vegas Tropicana. Get it, girl!

Felicia Atkins: Pussy Magnet. Ow!

I find the history of Old School Las Vegas really interesting (mainly a result of the intersection between my undying love of The Godfather movies and the fact that I’m perpetually interested in the persistent concept of the fast-and-loose, fancy-free frontier “west” in the American mind especially as it played out in increasingly swift travel methods available to the middle class seeking recreation in the twentieth century — first, trains to national parks, then big steely cars on the new highways roaring along state routes dotted with crummy roadside teepees and Bob’s Big Boys by the mid-century; that interests the shit out of me, seriously), so I’m going to reproduce Ms. Atkins’ original write-up in its entirety and then go in to some historical Las Vegas points of emotional interest as far as the Folies-Bergère goes (went).

Gone are the drear, dread days beyond recall when we were led to believe that showgirls had a pretty bad time of it in the sunshine-and-health department — late hours, smoke-filled rooms, nightclub pallor, and other offenses to God and man. Today, tongue-clucking do-gooders would find it a tough task convincing us that the life of a showgirl (in Las Vegas, anyway) is anything but Reilly. Look at Felicia Atkins, if you haven’t already.

(“Showgirl in the Sun: A Vegas Venus Mixes Vitamins with Va-a-voom.” Playboy, April 1958.)

She spends her nights in the chorus line of the sumptuous Hotel Tropicana, gladdening the eyes of all beholders with her finely fashioned five-feet-seven-and-a-half-inches.


By day, she sleeps late in a swank suite of the same hostelry, eats a mountainous breakfast, then squeezes into a bikini and slips out to soak up a skinful of Vitamin C and splash about in a cool pool until it’s time to dry off the corpore sano andfoi get ready for the evening’s extravaganza. For this, mind you, she gets paid. Another nice thing that’s happened to felicitous Felicia is her appearance as our Playmate for the month of April. It’s nice for us, too. (Ibid.)

/End drivel. Phew! Before I go in to more about the show for which she famously worked, a few notes on Ms. Atkins — from what I can gather, after leaving the Folies, she went to work for the MGM Grand, which buffs know was bought by Bally’s. Sometime between the Bally’s acquisition, some bartending gigs at what is now the Crazy Horse, and the revamping of Vegas in to a family destination in the 1990’s (darkly pleased to see it returning to its roots after that failed experiment — boo to themed roller coasters, yay to sequined pasties), Ms. Atkins retired back to her native Australia.

The “Folies-Bergère” opened at the Tropicana Hotel in 1959. Famous for its Cancan girls and statuesque showgirls the “Folies-Bergère” has outlived many hotels as well as shows. The longest continuous running production show in Las Vegas has been updated many times over the years to keep its status as a sophisticated Parisian spectacular.

(“Folies-Bergère: We Can-Can,” Hooper, R. Scott. vegasretro.com.)

When you hear “showgirl,” and automatically picture a leggy glamazon in ostrich-tail and resplendently over-the-top headdress, you are picturing a girl from the Folies-Bergère, the hip grandma of all Vegas revues. As VegasRetro reported, it was the longest-running show in the history of the City, and Ms. Atkins, here, was its longest-running performer. That is really something!

Folies-Bergère, known the world over for gorgeous dancers is not just a show … it’s a legend. The theme of “women through time” beginning in the 1800’s to present day has gone unchanged, but the new interpretations enhance the Folies-Bergère experience.

(“Les Folies-Bergère.” PCAP, Las Vegas Lesiure Guide, 2003.)

The Dressing Room number gives the audience a behind-the-scenes feel of how the gorgeous showgirls prepare for their nightly appearance on stage. Each scenario flows seamlessly into the next such as in La Vedette where male dancers present a stunning showgirl who materializes through smoke with giant butterfly wings on her back.


Another popular scene is fashioned in the 1920’s where “women of darkness” were known as vamps. A private boudoir moment, black silk and velvet dressing gowns accompanied by tassels used as erotic props emphasize the sexual natures of these women.


The Las Vegas Folies-Bergère, which opened in 1959, closed at the end of March 2009, after nearly 50 years in operation.

(the wiki.)

The Folies-Bergère showgirls have been entertaining audiences at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for 49 years. In the show’s heyday in Vegas, “The Trop,” where they performed, was considered the “Tiffany of the Strip,” attracting stars like Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Patrons came to rub elbows with stars and with the Folies’ showgirls, who would “dress up” the hotel bar after performances.

But times are tight in Las Vegas, and the Tropicana can’t afford to produce the Folies-Bergère anymore. The showgirls’ last performance will be March 28, 2009 — just a few months shy of the show’s 50th anniversary.

(“Folies-Bergère to close in Las Vegas.” Meraji, Shereen. 23 February 2009. NPR.)

Coupl’a’fine-ass kittens chillaxin’.

These days, Felicia is, like I said, back in Oz. She now lives in a senior care facility where you can write to her at 4 Muller St., Salamander Bay, New South Wales, 4317. Be respectfully advised she has recently started being treated for advancing dementia and may not now recognize photos and autograph requests.

Speaking of these kinds of subjects, I need to go because I am being summoned to have a conversation with my grandmother, who is hot to tell me for probably the sixth time today about how her brother Alvin got the first Model T in Priest River when she was a kid with graduation money from their grandmother and he took all the kids in town for rides in it, and they were speeding and hit a bump and he had to jerk her back down on to his lap at one point because she flew up in the air and almost out the window of the car. She loves that story. He was her favorite brother. I don’t mind when she gets stuck in a groove for a day on the really sweet and good memories. It’s a wonderful break from the Bad Days, plus the repetition ensures that now I will hold on to the memory for awhile. And that’s what we’ve all got ears and got voice boxes for, most likely. Right? It happens. Catch you later!

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28 Responses to “Spring Fever!: Felicia Atkins, Miss April 1958”


    […] Spring Fever!: Felicia Atkins, Miss April 1958 « The Thought Experiment […]

  2. Dennis coelho Says:

    I dated you in 1966 I worked at the tropicana hotel then I went to Texas worked oil field did a lot of foreign trade and lost contact my # is 832 283 3659 hope you are doing ok .

  3. John Lane Says:

    I am Barbara (Felicia) ATKINS step brother in Australia. I speak to her every weekend by phone and she is being very well looked after by the Staff at the Nursing Facility. She now has extreme dementia and does not recall any of the fabulous life that she led as a leading Las Vegas Showgirl…..such a pity. In the main she leads a very good life considering the situation that she is in. Even tried to teach the staff how to dance and discovered that ‘old age’ will not let you do that anymore. Hope this is of some help to those who have known her and enjoyed her company.

    John Lane

    • E. Says:

      It is wonderful to hear that your stepsister is so well taken care of. I am sure her old friends will be glad to read it. Thank you for the thoughtful update, Mr. Lane!

    • Judy Dixon Gabaldon Says:

      As I just posted below, I understand Ms. Atkins passed away very recently. I’m very sorry to hear this, but as you said, she did have a very exciting and interesting life. My condolences to you and the rest of her family and friends. Judy

  4. Web Roundup: 25 February, 2011 | Says:

    […] Miss April 1958: Felicia Atkins. […]

  5. CopaJoy@msn.com Says:

    My name is Joy Blaine. I am an old showgirl and ex-Miss Nevada who worked with Felicia in the very first Folies Bergere and even before that show at the Tropicana for Monte Proser and Lou Walters. Felicia and I were also roommates back when rents were cheap and near the Strip. I’m glad to hear she’s doing fine. I last saw her at the very last show at the reunion. She was as sweet a person as she was beautiful. I certainly wish her well. I’m glad I goggled and found this fine article and tribute to her. Thanks!

  6. Judy Dixon Gabaldon Says:

    I was told that Felicia Atkins passed away recently (by a fellow Tropicana showgirl). I’m so sorry to hear this. I don’t have any details at this time.

    • E. Says:

      Thank you so much for passing the info on, Mrs. Gabaldon. May she rest in peace.

      • Judy Dixon Gabaldon Says:

        I hope I didn’t speak out of turn. I got the information from a reliable source (a fellow Tropicana Folies Bergere showgirl and friend, who lives here in Las Vegas), but got it second hand and I don’t have any details. If I learn more, I’ll definitely share it. Thank you.

        • Arvin Kaufman Says:

          Dear Ms. Gabaldon,
          Can you please confirm that Felicia has passed away?
          Many thanks,
          Arvin Kaufman

  7. Michele Hamilton Says:

    I was Felica’s room-mate in the late 70’s and early 80’s. She was like my big sister and best friend rolled into one. We had some great times and I have very fond memories of her. I will be going through my pictures tonight to find the ones with her. She will and alway’s be a bright angel in heaven.

    • Arvin Kaufman Says:

      Dear Michele,
      Is it true that our dear Felicia passed away? I was a student at UNLV, at least 20-years younger than she. We had a brief affair
      just before I moved to Los Angeles for my first real job. Our brief
      affair was solid, sincere and compassionate. This all took place in
      1971. We actually loved each other and did not want to part, but
      we both knew I finally got my chance to have a career in Hollywood (first as an agent with William Morris, then as a producer). Her support and confidence in me was like the lover she was to me: pure, honest, and real. I only wish I could spend time with you to
      look over the pictures you have of her.

  8. wendy Says:

    She is not dead. She is still being well looked after in the nursing facility. Your reliable source is far from reliable.

  9. Judy Dixon Gabaldon Says:

    I’m so glad to hear that, Wendy. I’ll let the people know who told me that their information was wrong (happily).

  10. Anonymous Says:

    So where is the proof that she hasn’t passed on, Wendy? How reliable are you?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    She has not passed… she is still being taken good care of by staff at the nursing facility. I have seen and know this to be true as I see Barbara everyday as I am one of the many staff that care for her on a daily basis. That is proof and the truth.

  12. ron erickson Says:

    Felicia and I dated many years ago in Las Vegas and then in about 1976 I was general manager of the Jockey Club in Las Vegas and she worked as a hostess for us and did a terrific job. She looked great and everyone loved her. She became friends with my wife, Avis Miller, who was also a centerfold. Felicia was not only a stunner but had a great sense of humor. I just hope she’s okay and wish her nothing but the best–she is/was the very best.

    Ron Erickson

  13. albert pollins Says:

    i lived with felecia for a yr we met at the night gallery lounge i would love to visit her she was 20 yrs older then i was is she still in lasvegas i remeber driving with her in her convertible caddy she was very sweet and i have fond memories of her albert .i met her in 1980

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Felicia came into Gus Gallo’s Italian Restaurant where I worked while going through UNLV in the seventies. She was wearing a full length baby blue knit dress and was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She later came to work there with me as a cocktail waitress when she stopped working at the Tropicana Hotel. I called the place she is staying at Christmas of 2010 and talked to her. She sounded okay but did not remember very much of the old days. I am very happy I knew her and hope she is doing as well as possible jerry

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Felicia came into Gus Gallo’s Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas where I worked while going through UNLV. She wore a baby blue full length knit dress and was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. This was in the 1970’s. She later came to work with me there as a cocktail waitress. She was great fun to work with and really enjoyed life. I some to her Christmas of 2010 at the place she was living. She sounded okay but didn’t remember much of the old days. I hope she is doing as well as possible. I am very glad I knew her. She is unforgettable!

  16. Michael D.. Facone Says:

    Tony K has loved Felicia his entire life. They met at the 19th a bar at the Tropicana Golf Course. This is where the MGM sits today. While he was many years her Junior they had a marvelous fling/affair. This was in 1970 or 71 as he told the story. He even has her photo framed. When he went off to California to work for a world
    Reknowed Talent Agency her last words to him we’re “Good Luck handsome”
    And he rode into the sunset and has thought of her every day since.
    That’s love that’s romantic that’s how they both are and we’re.

  17. alan clancy Says:

    I used to work with felicia at the Ttropicana Hotel Las Vegas-she was the sweetest person Shpw -Girl and we were both from Australia in the show= everyone loved her and that funny personality and those lips and the rest -miss her

  18. Arvin Kaufman Says:

    I knew Felicia in the early ’70’s. I was a student at UNLV and she was like a big sister (and more) to me. I am the guy who Michael D. says we met at the 19th Hole, a bar that is where the MGM sits today. Felicia and I actually met in the tiny bar/lounge area off of
    the casino in the Tropicana Hotel. A sweet, lovely woman. She never let her voluptuous body make her feel better than those less endowed. She was a woman’s woman, just like Sinatra was a man’s man. I know she is suffering from Alzheimer’s and living in her home country of Australia. She was so kind, funny and considerate. I miss her dearly.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    my name is Penny LaCombe, and I was 17 in 1959 when I first went to work at the Trop. for Lou Walters…..Felicia was so kind to me….she taught me how to do my makeup and hair…..she was the most beautiful girl in vegas at that time. Every time she entered a lounge in one of the hotels, the band there would break into Waltzing Matilda. She was a natural blonde, but darkened her hair for exotic looks. I loved her very much and still think of her often. I wish her peace and love.

  20. jenny Says:

    Hi, My name is Jenny and I see your Sister often, my Mum is in the same nursing facility. She also use to tread the boards with my Father. I was very interested to see Barb’s little “Memoirs book” on a recent visit. What a stunningly beautiful woman your sister was. I often sing with her myself, so she hasnt totally forgotten it all. Her favourites seem to be..” You made me love you” and “goodnight Irene”. You and I are very lucky that your Sister and My Mum are in such a lovely facility.

  21. barnicle bill Says:

    she is on the cover of a gordon jenkins lp tropicana holliday…putting on makeup with other trop showgirls…stunning….

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Jim Sinay: I met Felicia in the early 70′s. We dated for quite a while. I was dealing craps at the Sahara. I remember walking into the Tower of Pizza one nite and some guy was putting a fork full of spaghetti in his mouth, the fork got to his lips and stopped when he saw her walking past his table’ His eyes never left her body. That’s when his DATE slapped him across the face. She and I laughed so hard about that for weeks. Yes I loved her and she loved me, but it was not meant to be for us. One day she told me that this was her year for a bullfighter. I said good luck, I will always remember you forever. What a wonderful women. God bless her.

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