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Clothes restored for the love of Lucy

History has cast Lucille Ball as a zany, redheaded clown.

But it sometimes forgets that she also wore clothes quite well, whether playing leggy chorus girls in 1930s films, a well-dressed housewife on '50s TV or Auntie Mame in the '70s.

Universal Studios Florida remembers and has asked a Florida woman to restore several outfits worn by Ball over the course of her lengthy film and TV career.

"I always loved Lucy," said Nancy Flower, who stitches and cleans the pieces in the dining room of her West Palm Beach home. "I open my door now and say, "Lucy, I'm home!' "

Among the Lucy-wear:

A veiled, sheared-beaver riding hat that Lucy wore in Mame. Flower repaired one section of the cracked brim and gave the whole hat a good cleaning and brushing. She's also restoring the hat's matching riding habit.

A fringy, flapper-style bodysuit covered with black sequins, rhinestones and thousands of bugle beads, many of which had to be restrung by Flower. A new lining also had to be sewn into the bodysuit; the original was deteriorating.

A two-piece suit with a green sequined jacket and variegated silk skirt worn in To Have and Have Not and an aqua dress from Yours, Mine and Ours.

A gray felt hat and a straw boater belonging to Desi Arnaz, worn in his personal life and on TV.

Universal acquired the costumes from Lucie Arnaz, Lucy and Desi's daughter, and has them on display at the theme park.

Most of the items were in fairly good shape, although some were faded from exposure to light, and some of the hats were slightly crushed.

A former antiques dealer with a background in art, Flower has restored textiles for the Flagler Museum and the Norton Museum of Art, and has also restored a life vest from the Titanic.

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