The cast of Sesame Street is losing one of its dearest friends. Sonia Manzano, who has played the role of lovable and vivacious Maria for 45 years, announced this week that she is retiring from the iconic children’s show.
Manzano began her role on Sesame Street in 1971, playing a teenage Maria, who had just landed a job at the local library. Earning a permanent spot on the show in 1974, Maria would go on to become a wife, mother, and Fix-It Shop owner. After countless hours spent with Big Bird, Oscar, and the rest of the neighborhood, saying goodbye will not be easy for cast, crew, or fans of Sesame Street. Manzano received an outpouring of emotion and nostalgia on social media after the news of her departure broke.
— The A.V. Club (@TheAVClub) July 1, 2015
— AutismMommyHeather (@NKCoverGrrl) June 30, 2015
Acting the part of Maria wasn’t the only contribution that Manzano made to the legendary children’s program. She also wrote for the show starting in 1981, and racked up an impressive 15 Emmy Awards for her writing work on top of two nominations for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series. The 65-year-old actress writer is set to release her upcoming biography, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx, in August.
In helping to teach kids their numbers and letters, Manzano’s contribution was invaluable to a show whose aim was to promote ethnic diversity, education, and acceptance. Through her depiction of Maria, Manzano also demonstrated that women could wield hammers, be business owners, request raises at work, and breast feed. Those are some of the reasons why we’ll miss her.
Below are some of Women in the World’s favorite moments with Maria on Sesame Street:
Maria shows us that breastfeeding is normal:
Maria explains what a hammer is, and how to use it:
Maria wants a raise at work, and Big Bird is supportive:
Maria tells us about all the jobs she’s had, and her hopes to go back to school:
Maria and Luis sing a catchy bilingual tune about “Hola”:
Maria and Luis share an adorable moment, to the amazement of the Martians:
Maria convinces Oscar the Grouch to talk about love: