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

Actress and writer first joined children’s show in 1971

Sonia Manzano, known to fans as Maria on the acclaimed  children’s “Sesame Street,” has announced she will retire from the show after 44 years.

The 65-year-old actress said this season of the long-running PBS show would be her last while speaking at the American Library Association Annual Conference earlier this week.

Manzano first joined “Sesame Street” in 1971. A production of the musical “Godspell” brought her to New York, where one of her first auditions was for the role of Maria.

She eventually became a writer for the show in addition acting. She has won 15 Emmy awards as part of the show’s writing staff. She has also been a regular contributor to the Sesame Workshop blog and wrote a children’s book called “No Dogs Allowed.”

Manzano has also appeared in episode’s of the 1970’s TV show “BJ and the Bear,” as well as “Law & Order” and more recently, its spinoff “Law & Order: SVU” as Judge Gloria Pepitone. She also returned to the stage in 2002 with a turn in “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Exonerated.”