Munsel was born in Spokane, Washington, United States and studied in New York, coached by Giacomo Spadoni. She first sang at the Metropolitan at age 17, in March 1943. She made her official Metropolitan debut on December 4, 1943 at the age of 18, singing Philine in Mignon. Perhaps best known for the role of Adele in Die Fledermaus, she performed 225 times at the Metropolitan. Sir Rudolf Bing called her a "superb soubrette" and implied that she was the world's best. Her opera roles included Rosina in The Barber of Seville and Despina in Cosi fan Tutte.
In 1952 Munsel married Robert C. Schuler, an advertising and public-relations executive, producer and writer. The two were married for fifty-five years and had four children together: Heidi, Rhett, Scott and Nicole. Their marriage ended upon Schuler's death in 2007. Schuler conceived and produced the ABC-TV primetime variety series The Patrice Munsel Show, which starred his wife, and was broadcast on ABC in 1956–1957. Munsel and Schuler co-wrote a 2005 memoir of Schuler's life entitled The Diva & I.
Munsel appeared on many other TV shows during her career, including the role of Marietta (Countess d'Altena) in the January 15, 1955 live telecast of the operetta "Naughty Marietta". She also portrayed the title role in the 1953 film Melba, which chronicled the life of the great opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba. Munsel made frequent television appearances on the Bell Telephone Hour, and was the central singer in the Camp Fire Girls' famous TV commercial and song "Sing Around the camp fire (join the Camp Fire Girls)", aired in the mid-1960s.
In 1958 she ended her career as an opera singer, and began to perform in musical comedies.
- The Dictionary of Opera, Charles Osborne, Macdonald & Co., London, England ISBN 0-356-09700-5
- Cover of Time magazine, December 3, 1951
- Article in Time magazine, December 3, 1951
- Cover of Life magazine, March 3, 1952
- Metropolitan Opera's "Opera News Online"
- Patrice Munsel personal website