Sonia Manzano Retires From Sesame Street After 44 Years as Maria

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Sonia Manzano is retiring from Sesame Street after 44 years on the show.

She helped generations of kids grow up as Maria, one of the human Sesame Street residents who became as recognizable as Big Bird, Elmo and Oscar.

Her exit has resulted in an outpouring of grief from Sesame Street fans.

Sonia Manzano Photo

Manzano, who at 65 has played Maria her whole adult life, made the announcement Tuesday at the American Library Association Annual Conference.

It's been an incredible career for both Sonia and the PBS program.

Manzano joined the show in 1971, and also began writing for the show and has since won 15 Daytime Emmy Awards as part of the show's writing staff.

She was also nominated twice for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series, as a beloved staple of a wonderful show that has spanned five decades.

In 2004, she published a children's book, No Dogs Allowed.

She will be missed, to say the absolute least!

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