Josef Von Stroheim carried one of the most famous family names in cinema and managed to survive it and thrive on his own terms, as a still photographer at MGM, across the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific, and later as an award-winning sound editor. Josef Erich Von Stroheim was born in 1922, the son of Viennese-born actor and filmmaker Erich Von Stroheim (1885-1957) and his third wife, actress Valerie Germonprez (aka Valerie Von Stroheim, 1897-1988). His older half-brother, by his father's earlier marriage to Mae Jones, was Erich Von Stroheim Jr. (1916-1968). Josef Von Stroheim's birth coincided with his father's work on the classic Foolish Wives (1922), which closed out the successful part of his directorial career. Josef Von Stroheim grew up while his father's reputation as a filmmaker was sliding into eclipse and he was reduced to the role of prominent character actor; his father and mother separated legally in 1936, though they never divorced. The boy had an interest in photography and went to work at MGM in 1939, at age 17, in the stills department. He was there for three years and joined the army in 1942, where he was assigned as a combat photographer, first in Europe and subsequently in the Pacific theater.
Von Stroheim shifted careers after World War II, moving into sound recording and editing. In 1955, he was the soundman on the CBS series Brave Eagle (1955), starring Keith Larsen, and he rejoined the movie business in 1957 as the soundman on Bert I. Gordon's sci-fi thriller The Amazing Colossal Man. He piled up credits as a sound editor over the next two years on such low-budget action movies as Suicide Battalion (1958), Jet Attack (1958), The Mugger (1959), and The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959), and also worked on the CBS series The Real McCoys. In 1959, he joined Desilu Studios as the supervising sound editor on the crime series The Untouchables, which kept him busy into 1963. When Sam Fuller made Shock Corridor (1963), he chose Von Stroheim as his sound editor; over the next few years Von Stroheim kept working in low-budget productions, including such perennial favorites (among kids) as Mutiny in Outer Space (1965) and Space Probe Taurus (1965). Those two movies, with their inevitable cheap-looking visuals, relied heavily on their sound to maintain whatever willing suspension of disbelief they could elicit from audiences. Most of Von Stroheim's work was devoted to such television series as aquatic adventure show Flipper, produced by Ivan Tors (who had previously employed Erich Von Stroheim Jr. on the mid-'50s series Science Fiction Theatre), and the detective series Mannix.