"It's the end of an era on Sesame Street," reports CNN. Sonia Manzano, who plays Fix-It Shop owner Maria, is retiring from the show after 44 years. Manzano, who made the announcement at the American Library Association Annual Conference this week, first appeared on the series in 1971. She became a regular in 1974, carving a path as one of the first Hispanic people on national TV, reports the Washington Post. The Puerto Rican actress, 65, was nominated for two acting Emmys and won 15 for work as a writer on the show over the years. She's also been named one of the "25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever" by Latina Magazine, according to a bio spotted by the Post.
Manzano worked alongside Emilio Delgado, who played her TV husband, Luis. Their daughter on the show, Gabi, was once played by Manzano's own daughter Gabriela, reports the New York Times. "Sesame Street allowed me to do an unmentionable in American society: age publicly," Manzano once told the Archive of American Television. "We were never made to look the same or maintain the same persona. So as we grew and our lives changed, our characters changed, especially Maria." Though fans have expressed sadness on social media, Manzano says her retirement is simply "the beginning of new endeavors!" Her upcoming biography is due out in August. (Read more Sesame Street stories.)