Sonia Manzano made her debut on Sesame Street 44 years ago and since then, her character, Maria, has literally grown up on the show.
But after four decades as a human resident of the famous street, Manzano has announced she is retiring and won’t be back next season, People reported.
Sonia’s announcement came at the American Library Association Annual Conference.
“Maybe I’ll go back for 50th anniversary and make a guest appearance!” Sonia said to one distraught fan, according to E! Online.
Though Manzano seems excited about her retirement, she’s hinted that the future holds exciting “new endeavors” and has asked her fans not to be too upset about her departure. But it’ll be a difficult adjustment, Manzano, 65, admitted, after so much time on the show, helping kids grow up and teaching them important life lessons.
Sonia’s life on Sesame Street began in 1971, when her character, Maria, was only a teenager and got a new job at the local library, Us Magazine reported. Over the years, the character grew up, getting married to a man named Luis (played by Emilio Delgado) and going on to co-own the Fix-It Shop.
Over the years, her contribution to the show has been recognized with 15 Daytime Emmy’s for her role as a writer. She’s also been nominated twice for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s series.
According to ABC News, she was also inducted into the Bronx Hall of Fame in 2005, and is the author of a few books: children’s books The Lowdown on the High Bridge, out this summer, and No Dogs Allowed, in 2004.
Sonia has been seen outside Sesame Street, too — on Law and Order: SVU as Judge Gloria Pepitone. She also had a role in the original Godspell off-Broadway.
For fans who are saddened by Manzano’s retirement, there is some hope. She will be releasing an autobiography this summer, called Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South of Bronx.
And, of course, you can always watch Maria’s most memorable moments on YouTube.
Like falling in love:
And going to work.
[Photo Courtesy Twitter]