In the last few years it's been obvious the Democratic Party needs help. But who would ever have thought it would turn to Hollywood and decide to retire the donkey -- the venerable (or not-so-venerable) symbol of the party?

According to New York magazine, the Democratic National Committee plans to put the donkey out to pasture and put on "a new face." It was not clear what the new logo would be, but the magazine quoted party officials as saying it was being designed by Saul Bass of Hollywood, who created the symbols of AT&T, Warner Communications and United Air Lines.

"We want to put a new face on the party," DNC spokesman John Florescu said. "It's always useful for a party to have a symbol that the public can recognize, particularly when its image is one of division and fractiousness." Besides, Florescu said, "in searching through the party archives, we discovered that the donkey was never officially adopted as a symbol in the first place."

And who knows? In this age of political symbolism, the change just might work. Will McFarlane Resign?

It often has been often speculated that national security affairs adviser Robert McFarlane has not been too happy recently with his role at the White House. Close friends are now saying they expect him to resign after the first of the year. Although a McFarlane spokesman denies knowledge of any pending resignation, this week's Newsweek magazine refers to unnamed White House aides who say McFarlane is fed up with what he considers chief of staff Donald Regan's highhanded management style and meddling in foreign policy matters.

One friend says McFarlane "is totally at the mercy of Regan." It is also said, coincidentally, that Regan has problems of his own, especially with First Lady Nancy Reagan, since his unfortunate comment about what women would -- and would not -- be interested in at the Geneva summit. The first lady is reportedly not pleased with the chief of staff and people she's not pleased with eventually find themselves working somewhere else.

Newsweek says two possible replacements for McFarlane are Lawrence Eagleburger, former undersecretary of state, and David Abshire, U.S. ambassador to NATO. It is even speculated that McFarlane would like to become ambassador to Japan if that post, now held by 82-year-old former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield, becomes vacant next year. John Heckler Remarries

Less than three weeks after his divorce from former health and human services secretary Margaret Heckler became final, John M. Heckler married USA Today senior editor Sheryl Jean Bills. Heckler, the wealthy lawyer and founder and chief executive officer of Boston Institutional Services, a stock brokerage, married longtime friend Bills Saturday at Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria.

The wedding itself was attended mainly by family members. The Hecklers hosted a reception later for about 100 family members and friends at their new farm, Kelvedon, just outside of Middleburg. John and Margaret Heckler ended their 32-year marriage by agreeing to a no-fault divorce after a month-long trial that was often rancorous with allegations of marital abandonment and infidelity. Margaret Heckler was recently named ambassador to Ireland. End Notes

Peace activist Betty Flanagan Bumpers is to receive the 1985 Woman of Conscience Award of the National Council of Women of the United States. Bumpers, who is founder and president of Peace Links, a network of women committed to preventing nuclear war, is to receive the award Wednesday in New York City. The wife of Sen. Dale Bumpers, Betty Bumpers was selected for the honor by the council, which represents more than 25 national and international women's groups, for having "a significant impact on society in its attempt to find ways and means to ensure a future world without war" . . .

Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.) was admitted last night to Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Florida for a triple coronary bypass operation. Chiles, 56, is to undergo surgery this morning . . .

That 1981 DeLorean sports coupe that Johnny Carson loved to joke about on his "Tonight" show was auctioned Saturday and sold for $18,250 . . .

It probably says something significant about the conservative bent of the readers of Good Housekeeping magazine. In its recent poll asking who are the 10 most admired men and women in the United States, President Reagan beat out the pope and Nancy Reagan was more admired than Mother Teresa . . .