Quick-footed regularfooter from Capistrano Beach, California; among the first group to ride Waimea Bay in 1957; runner-up in the 1965 United States Surfing Championships.
Muñoz was born (1937) and raised in New York City, the son of an opera singer father, moved at age six with his family to Santa Monica, California, began surfing at 10, and soon developed into one of the hottest young guns at Malibu. In 1956 he dated a neophyte teenage surfer named Kathy Kohner, better known to the Malibu surf set, and soon to America at large, as "Gidget." (The 5'4", 130-pound Muñoz wore a bikini and blond wig as the surfing stunt double for Sandra Dee in the 1959 movie version of Gidget.)
While Muñoz earned a reputation in the late '50s as an enthusiastic big-wave rider, he was also highly regarded as a snappy and playful small-wave ace: the 1960 debut issue of Surfer magazine features him riding three-to-a-board at Malibu, and spontaneously inventing moves like the "mysteriouso," "el telephono," and, most famously, the "quasimoto." In the early and mid-'60s, Muñoz developed into one of California's best competitors, finishing runner-up in the 1962 and 1963 West Coast Championships and third in the 1964 United States Championships. In 1965 he was invited to the inaugural Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, won the Tom Morey Invitational noseriding contest, placed second in the U.S. Championships, and fourth in the World Championships.
In the summer of 1963, when 10-foot boards were the rule, Muñoz often used a 6'8" board he made for his four-year-old son. Muñoz went on to design and shape for Hobie Surfboards. Unlike many surfers of his generation, Muñoz continued to surf regularly if anonymously through the '70s and '80s. He returned to the public eye in the '90s as a sage, cheerful, and at times poetic elder statesman. "It's the process of surfing that's important," he told Longboard magazine in 1997. "It's sitting in the water, looking into the depths, watching the colors change, sensing the rhythm of the ocean and knowing you're not tied to your wristwatch."
Muñoz was featured in more than a dozen surf movies, including Search for Surf (1958), Angry Sea (1963), Stop the Wave, I Want to Get Off (1965), and Fantastic Plastic Machine (1968). He also appeared in Liquid Stage: The Lure of Surfing, a 1995 PBS-aired documentary.
In 2006, Muñoz was inducted into the Surfer's Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach. His memoir, No Bad Waves: Talking Story with Mickey Muñoz, was published in 2011.