May 09, 1994 12:00 PM

And now a few words from charter members of the Faye Dunaway Fan Club: Jack Nicholson (her Chinatown costar): “Ms. Dunaway is a force. Always there and ever up.”

Peter Falk (her costar on a Columbo movie last year): “She’s dazzling. You know you’re in the presence of something unique.”

Johnny Depp (her costar in the yet-to-be-released movie Arizona Dream): “I think she’s one of those people who’s kind of blessed in a way. She’s gotten where she’s gotten gracefully and beautifully. She’s flawless. I don’t know too much about beauty and all that, I only know what I respond to, and she’s incredible.”

At 53, Dunaway may be the last of the screen legends, the kind that can part crowds, quiet rooms and sometimes drive her colleagues crazy. Before the Columbo filming began, Falk recalls, “I wanted to strangle her. A week later I would have gladly dusted the sidewalk where she was walking.

The woman who early on was told “I wasn’t beautiful enough to be a movie star” has earned her mug. “Camus said that one is responsible for one’s face,” she says. “That intrigued me, that you create your face.” Dunaway’s is as vivid as her characters: the amoral thrill seeker in Bonnie and Clyde, the reptilian TV queen in Network (which won her a Best Actress Oscar) and a pitiless Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest. Twice-divorced, Dunaway’s dating, but her main man is son Liam, 14 (with ex-hubby photographer Terry O’Neill). At her Beverly Hills home she is working on her memoirs and on that existential visage with daily workouts, a careful diet (despite an occasional fling with pound cake) and discipline always. “If you’re slovenly or dim-witted,” she says, “your face is not going to be beautiful.”

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