WILLEM DAFOE: CHARACTER FACTOR

BERNADETTE PETERS: PAT ANSWERS

RINGO: IN TRAINING

HELP, MATE: Former Beetle RINGO STARR admits that patience isn't always a virtue. Of his recent treatment, with wife BARBARA BACH, for alcohol abuse, Ringo says, "If there's a lesson to be learned, it's don't wait so long to get help. That was my mistake." About his new PBS children's show, Shining Time Station, in which he stars as Mr. Conductor, a miniature train conductor, he says, "It's fabulous being 18 inches tall and working in a children's fantasy world, but this isn't going to be a career for me. There won't be Mr. Conductor movies, videos and albums."

AIN'T NOTHING BUT A FRUITCAKE: No one is more concerned with saving face than an EL VIS PRESLEY fan. To mark the late King's 54th birthday on Jan. 8, members of the Memphis-based Then, Now & Forever Elvis Presley Fan Club shared a cake baked in Elvis' likeness. "We always save Elvis' face for the last," fan club president BILLIE LEJEUNE told Memphis' Commercial Appeal newspaper. "We cut as close as we can before we get to the face—his hairline, his neck, his ear. We have people who stand in line just to get a piece of that face. We had one girl who stood in line from noon to 4 last year just to get his lips."

PLAYING WHITE HOUSE: While NANCY REAGAN became the first actress to play a first lady in real life, there are those actresses who would happily just pretend. "I'm not really a historian so all the first ladies I know about are the ones that I've lived through," said actress BERNADETTE PETERS, while attending the recent Council of Fashion Designers of America dinner honoring Mrs. Reagan in New York. Peters, who stars in the forthcoming film Slaves of New York, based on the TAMA JANOWITZ book, added, "I'd like to play PAT NIXON, who had a really interesting story, especially when you consider all the things that she had to go through." Another attendee, LIZA MINNELLI, volunteered, "I think I would choose DOLLEY MADISON. She was fashion-oriented."

RECORD TIME: Using the professional name DJ Drena, 21-year-old DRENA DE NIRO, the stepdaughter of ROBERT from his marriage to actress DIAHNNE ABBOTT, is spinning off on her own. A deejay for Mars, one of Manhattan's newest dance clubs, she says, "I'm very careful about pushing the whole De Niro thing. Other people are interested in that, but I'm not. I'd like to think people pay to come and hear me play well. It bothers me that people think I got this job because of the name, though in all honesty maybe that's partly true. But that can't stop you from doing something. If doors open up because of the connection, all right, but it's up to me to go on with it and get good." Drena, an aspiring singer with no interest in acting, adds, "I'm not out to be a celebutante."

LAST TEMPTATION OF SAMMY: Variety may be the spice of WILLEM DAFOE's cinematic life, but he recognizes his limits. "I'm sure there are parts I'm not fit for," says the actor, who last year played Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ and now can be seen as an FBI man in ALAN PARKER's Mississippi Burning. "I turn down scripts if I'm not interested in them or if I think that I'm so far away from the character that the challenge would become convincing the audience you're right for the role. If, for instance, I'm ever asked to play the SAMMY DAVIS JR. story, I'd pass."