Sonia Manzano to Retire After 44 Years on ‘Sesame Street’

Sonia Monzano Sesame Street
Courtesy of PBS/Richard Termine

Sesame Street” is losing one of its most recognizable faces.

Sonia Manzano, who played Maria on the long-running PBS children’s show, is retiring 44 years after joining the series, she said at the American Library Association Annual Conference.

Manzano first appeared on “Sesame Street” in 1971, and was upped to a series regular in 1974. Manzano, with TV-husband Luis, are known to “Sesame Street” viewers for running the Fix-It Shop, which specializes in toaster repair.

Along with acting on the show, Manzano also served as a writer. She won 15 Emmys for her writing work on the show, and was nominated twice for her acting. Manzano also has a memoir releasing soon, “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.”

“Sonia Manzano has announced her retirement from ‘Sesame Street,’ but she will always be a part of the fabric of our neighborhood” said Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the show, said in a statement on Thursday. “During her 44-year career as the iconic ‘Maria,’ and the first leading Latina woman on television, she was a role model for young girls and women for generations. Sonia’s talents on ‘Sesame Street’ extend beyond her groundbreaking role on camera; she also earned 15 Emmy awards as a member of ‘Sesame Street’s’ writing team. We’ll always be grateful for her many years on Sesame Street as a champion of diversity and helping millions of kids grow up smarter, stronger and kinder.”

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  1. mark says:

    Thank you for all your years. I grew up to watching you and the everyone on Seasame Street. Just got back into watching Seasame Street the past few years while watching my now 3 year old nephew. I was amazed, felt great, and at home watching you all and seeing the wounderful educators I grew up with. Btw I ‘ll be 41 in a month. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to you and 44 wonderful years of the best young education. God bless.

    • Ben says:

      A lot has changed since I tuned in to Sesame Street as a kid, but I will always have fond memories of Maria & the valuable lessons she imparted. In particular, I am grateful to her for teaching me my first words of Spanish in such a warm & enthusiastic manner. The importance that she placed upon principles such as harmony & cooperation was truly a legacy for me, & no doubt countless others as well.

      Muchas gracias, Maria, por ser mi primer y mejor maestro de español. Espero que Ud. tiene mucha felicidad en su futuro.

  2. Jayne says:

    Thank you so much, my kids, then grandkids grew up watching you . Enjoy your retirement knowing you made a difference in this world.

  3. Mary says:

    My kids and grand kids grew up on Sesame St!!! Thank You Sonia for ALL you have done for the Parents and especially the children!!!

  4. Judith Donegan says:

    You made it a great place to visit mother and child together happy times thank you will miss seeing you there.

  5. Maris says:

    When is her retirement taking place?

  6. Anais says:

    NOOOOO, Maria don’t goooo!!! :(

  7. I was born the same year Maria came onto the show, and she’s absolutely one of the reasons it felt immediately like family. (She also always reminded me of my sister.) It feels like a little death to know that that she won’t be there if I turn on PBS anymore. However, best wishes to Sonia in this next phase of her life!

  8. Diane Chitwood says:

    Sonia, you will be terribly missed! My sons loved Sesame Street and now my grand kids are growing up with you! When my sons were little you were on tour and they have pictures of you and them together. What a treasure! Thank you for all the time of helping our kids grow up! Enjoy the time you deserve in retirement!

  9. tlillis4 says:

    I wonder if she “announced” her retirement in anticipation of promoting her book. After all, Bob McGrath hasn’t been a regular for two years now but there wasn’t an announcement. Not that it’s not well earned – I’m old enough to remember that Maria was not an original character. I hope she returns from time to time in cameos.

    It will be interesting to see what her memoire says about Northern Calloway

  10. La Gra says:

    I am 52 and watched Sesame Street from the beginning. It seemed like she was always there. Happy retirement Sonia. Blessings for your future endeavors whatever they may be.

  11. Dee Morrow says:

    Somehow I thought she’d always be there. Happy, and well deserved, retirement. My granddaughter (2) loves the program, and especially Elmo.

  12. MeAko says:

    Maria: you have aged, spectacularly well. Thank you for all the hours of keeping us glued to the old tube.

  13. My daughter will miss you, so will I!!! Sesame Street taught me how to read!!

  14. Raymond Dasoy says:

    Thank you, Maria/Sonia. You as well as all the cast of Sesame Street have been a great part of my happy childhood. Muchas gracias!

  15. Jill H says:

    How is that? Doesn’t she LIVE there? Is she and Luis having problems?

  16. This is another nail in the future of Sesame Street… Will not be the same without her..

  17. Thank you for influencing me and my now almost 22 year old son. I loved Maria and Luis. You will be missed. Happy retirement and many blessings.

  18. will she continue to write for them?

  19. Stephanie D says:

    I’ve loved her since I was a kid watching Sesame Street. 44 years is a long time. Thank you for all you’ve done for children everywhere!

  20. James Armato says:

    She was my favorite one! I think it led to my eventual attraction to Hispanic women! LOL!

  21. Kortney M says:

    wow she is sexy

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