William Daniels was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 1, 1901. In 1918, Daniels began working as a camera man at Universal Studios, making serials and one-reel comedies. In 1922, he transitioned into the role of cinematographer working with Erich von Stroheim on the films Foolish Wives. Stroheim's obsession with detail may have been instilled into Daniels during their working relationship. His demands for lighting and photographic skills were tremendous: outdoor shots in Death Valley, shots taken deep in a gold mine (according to Daniels, in 132-degree heat) or a junk-man's cabin. Many of the shots over which Daniels took such great pains were cut out of the final version of Greed , but the discipline of shooting them left its mark on Daniels, who was about to face his greatest challenge—filming Greta Garbo.