Sandwich Named For Grover Of Sesame StreetShe's been with the show almost since the beginning, and now, "Sesame Street" star Sonia Manzano is saying goodbye to the venerable kids program.

Manzano, who's played Maria on the PBS series for 44 years, announced her retirement at the American Library Association Annual Conference earlier this week (her memoir, "Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx," is due out on August 25). "Sesame Street" has yet to issue an official statement about her departure.

The actress joined "Sesame Street" in 1971, and became a series regular in 1974. She was nominated twice for acting Emmys for her work on the program, and also became a member of the writing staff, winning 15 Emmys over the years.

There's no word yet on just when Manzano will exit "Sesame Street," but she's been tweeting up a storm about the news, engaging with fans who are heartbroken over her retirement. In a long series of exchanges with her followers, Manzano thanked fans for their well wishes, and assured them that "Sesame Street" would remain the same beloved series it's been for a generation.

"It's wonderful to hear how much people love the show," Manzano said, adding that her retirement was "the beginning of new endeavors." The actress also said that she'd be open to return to "Sesame Street" in the future, particularly for an upcoming milestone.

"Maybe I'll go back for 50th anniversary and make a guest appearance!" she tweeted.

Our fingers are crossed. Thanks for the memories, Maria.

[via: American Libraries, h/t Variety]

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