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Tanous, Henry J.
b. 1909
Discipline: Drawing/Illustration, Painting

The son of Syrian immigrants, Henry Tanous was born and raised in Hettinger, North Dakota. 

He studied art at the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks and later at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the Minneapolis Art Institute.

In 1934, he was hired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to paint several “native scenes” of North Dakota. (The WPA was a federal New Deal program designed to alleviate unemployment during the Great Depression.) These pieces carried titles such as “Ice Harvest” and “Jack Rabbit Round-Up” and included a group portrait of three UND faculty members.

In 1939, Tanous moved to California and found work in the story department of the Walt Disney Company. He eventually moved to the animation department where he worked as an animator on the 1953 short “Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom” and as a character animator on the feature-length classic Sleeping Beauty.

He and his wife also designed fabrics and wallpaper and wrote children’s books.

- Ben Nemenoff


Barr, Paul E. North Dakota Artists. Grand Forks: University of North Dakota Library, 1954.

“Henry Tanous.” The Internet Movie Database, July 18, 2004. <>.

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