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Sonia Manzano Leaves Sesame Street After 44 Years

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Sesame Street’s Sonia Manzano, who has played Maria on the children’s show for more than 40 years, is retiring.

Sonia Manzano, 65, joined Sesame Street in 1971 and became a series regular in 1974, giving helpful advice to characters like Big Bird and Elmo.

The actress was also a writer on the show, winning 15 Emmy Awards for her work.Sesame Street Maria Sonia Manzano

The news has led to a flood of tributes on social media, with many remembering Sonia Manzano fondly from their childhoods.

She told a conference of librarians in San Francisco that she would not be returning for Sesame Street‘s next season.

“Thank you but don’t be bummed!” Sonia Manzano later tweeted to disappointed fans, adding that she could return for the show’s 50th anniversary.

Sonia Manzano’s character arrived on Sesame Street working at a bookstore but eventually moved to the Fix-It Shop alongside Luis, the show’s Mexican-American handyman.

Over the years on Sesame Street, Maria and Luis got married and even had a child.