A collective sigh has been let out as news that Sonia Manzano, who has played the beloved character of ‘Maria’ on PBS’s children’s TV show “Sesame Street” will be leaving the show. Elmo’s bestie is retiring from the iconic series after 44 years on television. Manzano, who is Puerto Rican, was one of the first Latinas to appear on national television. Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post writes:
“Manzano, whose parents came from Puerto Rico, became one of the first Hispanics to appear on national television, in many ways, helping to break down racial and gender barriers. She built a 44-year career playing Maria, a character loosely based on her own life. She was nominated for two Emmy awards for her acting and won 15 others for her writing on the show. Now, she is stepping down.
Earlier this week, Manzano, now 65, announced her retirement at the American Library Association Annual Conference, telling viewers she would not be on the next season of ‘Sesame Street.’ Fans took to social media, saying she was ‘the first Latina I saw on TV in the 70s!’ ‘you taught me my first words in Spanish’ and ‘you played a huge part in my early fascination with other languages and cultures.’
‘What you say is music to my ears!’ Manzano replied. ‘Gracias!’
The Carnegie Mellon graduate, who was raised in the South Bronx, joined the “Sesame Street” cast in 1971, playing a teenager, who worked in a second-hand bookstore. By 1974, she was a regular, soon acting alongside her TV husband, Luis, who was played by Emilio Delgado. She joined other minorities on the show, including Matt Robinson and Loretta Long (who played Gordon and Susan) and Will Lee (who played Jewish store owner Mr. Hooper).
Read more at the Washington Post.