The longevity of Sesame Street has seen some inevitable turnover through the years, some less controversial than others, but the latest loss will have most everyone in a nostalgic fit. Sonia Manzano, best known as the iconic Maria, will say goodbye to Sesame Street after a whopping 44 years on the air.

Having joined the series in 1971 (and becoming a regular fixture in 1974), Manzano herself confirmed her retirement at the recent American Library Association Annual Conference. The actress and author had garnered several Emmy nominations for her performance as the fix-it shop character, eventually winning an incredible 15 trophies for her tenure writing on the longrunning children’s series.

As noted by the AVClub, Manzano will continue past her Sesame Street tenure in promoting forthcoming memoir Becoming Maria: Love And Chaos In The South Bronx, though no word if Sesame Street will look to introduce another major human figure, particularly one so memorable.

Sesame Street will endure for who-knows how long, but will Sonia Manzano’s absence as Maria leave too great a hole in the series? How might PBS look to send the character off, at least for now?

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