Manuel Gonzales was born in Spain, but his family moved to the USA when he was 5 years old, in 1918. He studied at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he would copy some of the paintings as a training. He became a staff artist at the Walt Disney Studios in September 1936. He worked at the Publicity Art Department, until he took over the 'Mickey Mouse' Sunday page from Floyd Gottfredson in 1938. Except for his military service (1942-1945), Gonzales continued to draw this page until his retirement in 1981, showcasing Mickey's everyday life in contrast with the adventure stories of the dailies.
Gonzales added the hustler bird 'Ellsworth' to the Disney universe, a character that was prominently featured in the 'Mickey Mouse' Sunday pages between 1949 and 1959. In addition, Gonzales illustrated newspaper comic adaptations of films like 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Cinderella', 'Peter Pan' and 'Lady and the Tramp' between 1950 and 1955 (inks by Dick Moores). In the mid-1950s he inked several of Al Taliaferro's 'Donald Duck' dailies. From 1956 to 1981 he was the main inker of the daily 'Scamp' comic (pencilled by Bob Grant, Richard Moore, Mike Arens, etc.). Gonzales illustrated several Disney books at Golden Press and Whitman between 1948 and 1954, such as 'Come Play with Mickey Mouse' and 'Three Orphan Kittens'.