Helen Hayes, the First Lady of the American theater, came home to Washington Wednesday to celebrate her 90th birthday at a black-tie dinner and auction at the Four Seasons Hotel. The auction raised nearly $70,000 for the annual Helen Hayes Awards, and much of the money came from Hayes herself, who donated two big-ticket items and bought two others. She purchased a seven-day cruise for two on the Mississippi Queen riverboat for $4,000, and a $1,000 Oriental rug from Parvizian Inc.

Hayes and her son, actor James MacArthur, who was there with his children, donated one of the biggest auction items of the evening: a week at their grand Mexican estate in Cuernavaca. It went for $8,000. The surprise bid of the evening was for a Van Cleef & Arpels diamond clip designed for and presented to Hayes when she was named USO Woman of the Year in 1974. The catalogue valued the piece at $5,500 but when the auctioneer started the bidding, a California friend of Hayes's, Richard K. Eamer, shouted, "Ten thousand dollars." That completed the bidding, and he gave the keepsake to his wife, former Metropolitan Opera star Dorothy Kirsten. Among the other Hayes friends present were actresses Pat Carroll and Arlene Dahl, Nancy Sinatra Sr. and Ginny Mancini, the ex-wife of composer Henry Mancini.

Out and About With all his great financial problems, Donald Trump isn't even a hot author anymore. His first book, "The Art of the Deal," rode comfortably on the New York Times bestseller list for 48 weeks. Readers were hoping to find his secrets to success. Not so with the sequel, "Surviving at the Top." As a curiosity it made it to the list for seven weeks, but since Donald isn't surviving at the top, it has fallen off. Donald's love life, however, is apparently on a high. After all those denials, he and "friend" Marla Maples are out and about. And in a true coming out, Marla has given an interview to Vanity Fair magazine writer Maureen Orth, who lives here. Columnist Liz Smith reports that Orth asked Marla if she would keep her name if she married Donald, and she said, "I always promised Daddy I'd keep my name because I'm an only child and he never had a son ... so I don't know, maybe Marla Maples Trump." The courts may be watching Donald's spending, but Marla is living well. Orth reports she has luxury suites in Aspen, Colo., and at Trump Plaza as well as an East Side New York sublet and a leased apartment in L.A.'s Century City, not counting helicopters and limousines ...

Former top Reagan adviser Lyn Nofziger, who candidly admits he would have preferred someone other than George Bush on the Republican ticket at the 1980 convention, has also weighed in to differ with a report that former senator Paul Laxalt strongly opposed Bush. In responding to an allegation of Laxalt's opposition in Sidney Blumenthal's new book, "Pledging Allegiance," Nofziger wrote yesterday to the Personalities column: "I don't think Bush was the first choice of any of the people close to Reagan, but we united behind him when he was selected. And I don't think any of us during the ensuing eight years seriously regretted his selection" ...

Peter Max, the artist with the brightly colored palette who is in town for his first exhibition here at the Merrill Chase Galleries, dropped by Sen. Edward Kennedy's office yesterday to present him with his multiple John F. Kennedy portrait, which will be on permanent display at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston ...

This could catch on like a David Letterman routine: Things are so bad that Crown Books' Bobby Haft no longer believes books cost too much ... Things are so bad that Riggs Bank's Joe Allbritton thinks the most important money in the world is his ...