Eddie Sixpack walks a beat one block long: 46th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Like the marquees above his sidewalks, his job goes dark on Sunday and Monday nights.

Why do theater people call him Eddie Sixpack?Because he's around so much they've tried to read his name tag: Skrzypek (SKRIZ-pek, if you dare). "You wish you were Vanna White," one admirer said. "You want to say, `Can I sell you a vowel?' "

As Post No. 6 man on the Theater Squad, Officer Edward Skrzypek is there to keep the block safe for the people who endlessly pepper him with a question that would send any less patient cop reaching for his stick: "How do I get to `Les Miz'?"

He can handle 14 or so languages - the trickier the accent, the wider he sweeps his arm and the louder he says: "Arooo-ooound on 45th. Cut throooough the parking lot." And off they go, waving their thanks.

Broadway theaters sold $356 million worth of tickets last year, generating more than $2 billion in income for actors, ushers, hotel clerks, maitre d'hotels, garage attendants, limo drivers, and panhandlers. It's worth it to the city to assign 15 officers to a special squad that makes out-of-towners feel safe in the theater district at night. That's why an alert theatergoer might see the same faces under the visors each evening: Eddie Sixpack on 46th, Jesse Rotger on 45th, Sonny Marianetti on 52nd.

Their policing style is territorial, like Marshal Dillon's. The unit motto might be: "Not on my block you don't."

What goes into the job?

Chasing off buses trying to wait two hours for their theater parties.

Watching stage door crowds when an actor has gotten threats.

Going into theaters to help heart attack victims.

Or into hotels to take burglary reports.

And giving directions. Constantly giving directions.

"We all love Eddie Sixpack," said Nick DeCarlo, who works backstage at "Les Miserables." "He knows all our names - he saw the show with his wife. He makes us feel safe."

When gullible tourists have handed $100 to a stranger who promises orchestra seats, Theater Squad officers have been known to talk house managers into letting the tourists in anyway.

Backstage workers have helped chase down purse-snatchers. "And anybody turns on these cops, you'll get about 14 stagehands come out and jump the guy," Luongo said.

In a famous yarn about joint police-theater operations, a drunken man, recently separated from his wife, got into a brawl on opening night of "The Goodbye Girl" while his two young daughters shrank in their seats.

"He was out of control," Luongo said. "He wanted to fight the officers, too. We had to lock him up." That left them with two little girls, and their mother had a long drive in. They asked the theater people for help. Martin Short and Bernadette Peters invited the girls to the cast party and sat with them until Mom arrived.

Yes, it's a beat full of stars. How many others can you walk where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton lead an ovation as you arrest a man refusing to leave the Row D seat he was mistakenly given by an usher? Where Ben Vereen says: "I'm really tired tonight. Can you get me through the crowd?"

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Where you stop traffic so an elephant can be loaded into a freight elevator as a 50th-birthday surprise for Shirley MacLaine?

Skrzypek once saw the late Raul Julia wearing a Boston Police Department baseball cap and said, "Oh, no - that doesn't go here," and got him an NYPD model. A stagehand told him he saw it in photos of Julia's hospital room.

Marianetti has been on the squad for 20 years, longer than anyone else.

He's the one who helped sneak in MacLaine's birthday present. One night five years later, the actress fell asleep in a restaurant after a performance. Gently shaking her awake for a waiting cab, he delivered his greatest line: "Miss MacLaine? Your elephant's ready." She remembered.

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