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William H. Daniels Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trivia (3)  | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (3)

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA
Nickname Billy

Mini Bio (1)

Oscar-winning director of photography William Daniels was a master of black-and-white cinematographer most famous for the 21 films he shot that starred the immortal Greta Garbo between 1926 and 1939. Among the Gabro classics he lensed were The Torrent (1924), Flesh and the Devil (1926), Love (1927) (Garbo and home studio MGM's first crack at Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina"), Mata Hari (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Queen Christina (1933), the sound remake of Anna Karenina (1935), Camille (1936), and Ninotchka (1939).

He won fame for his lensing of Garbo, but to those who claimed that he was essential to his success, Daniels replied, "I didn't create a 'Garbo face.' I just did portraits of her I would have done for any star. My lighting of her was determined by the requirements of a scene. I didn't, as some say I did, keep one side of her face light and the other dark. But I did always try to make the camera peer into the eyes, to see what was there."

Though he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for the 1930 English-language version of Anna Christie (1930) (he also shot the 1931 German-language version Anna Christie (1930)), ironically, it was his only nomination for a Garbo film. He won his Oscar in 1949 for his brilliant B+W cinematography on the classic film noir The Naked City (1948).

Daniels received two other Oscar nominations. He was President of the American Society of Cinematographers from 1961 to 1963.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Trivia (3)

President of American Society of Cinematographers 1961-1963.
In his biography of producer Mark Hellinger (who produced The Naked City (1948), which won Daniels an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White), Jim Bishop wrote: "In the old silent days, Daniels had been the best of them all. His camera work was so close to art that producers and directors and cameramen used to sit in private projection rooms, not to judge a picture, but to see what new tricks of lighting and effects Daniels had achieved. The industry acknowledged that Daniels' work was so fine that other cameramen were never censured for shamelessly stealing it".
Frank Sinatra was so impressed by Daniels's work on "Some Came Running" that he insisted on using him as cameraman on nine subsequent films, on three of which he also served as associate producer or co-producer. He also co-produced, but did not photograph, Sinatra's only film as director, "None But The Brave".

Personal Quotes (3)

We try to tell the story with light, and the director tells it with action.
[on his photographing Greta Garbo] I didn't create a "Garbo face". I just did portraits of her I would have done for any star. My lighting of her was determined by the requirements of a scene. I didn't, as some say I did, keep one side of her face light and the other dark. But I did always try to make the camera peer into the eyes, to see what was there.
[on how he got into the movie business] I managed to land a job at the age of 15 with the Triangle Film Corporation/Kay-Bee; they needed an assistant cameraman, and of course I knew nothing about it, but they gave me a job anyway. I got twelve dollars a week. I carried a camera and held a slate. We loaded the film magazines and the still camera and carried all of the equipment to the set. My first job as an assistant was on Gloria Swanson's first dramatic film. When the company failed, I went over to Universal, and worked on some of their serials. After a year they let me become full photographer, on a one-reel Bert Roach comedy, then I did more comedies and more serials, while working alternately with [Erich von Stroheim] on his big pictures.

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