This html reprint of the Harper Goff article in the Spring 1993, Issue #12 of the SubCommittee Report has been made possible by the generous permission of Mr. Jeff LaRue, VP of The SubCommittee.

Mr. Don Osler of The SubCommittee informs us that Issue 12 is still available for the cost of $7.50 plus postage.
You may write to them at:
c/o Don Osler
P.O. Box 16578
Rochester, NY, 14612

or email at: If you have an interest in submarine modeling, then The SubCommittee is the place to be! Thank you, gentlemen, for allowing us to share this piece of Nautilus history!!



Artist and production designer Harper Goff, whose credits included Willie Wonka and the Chocolate

Factory, Fantastic Voyage, The Vikings, The Great Locomotive Chase, and 20,000 Leagues Under the

Sea, died March 3 at his home in Palm Springs at the age of 81.


Born in Fort Collins, Colorado, he and his family later moved to Santa Ana, California. He attended art

classes at Choinard in Los Angeles. For a while he lived in New York where he executed paintings for

Colliers, Esquire, National Geographic, and Coronet.


His lifelong hobbies included Dixieland music and model railroads, and, for several years, he was banjo

player for Ward Kimball's "Firehouse Five Plus Two," the famous jazz band composed of Disney



In 1951, at the Bassett-Lowke Ltd. shop in London, Harper met Walt Disney, as both were interested in

purchasing the same antique locomotive model. Walt later hired Harper to execute storyboards for a "True

Life Adventure" short tentatively titled "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." He instead filled eight 4 x 8

storyboard panels with designs and sketches for a potential full-length feature, which Walt finally

acquiesced to produce as his first all-live action film made in the U.S. Harper was best remembered for

his designs of the alligator-sharklike submarine NAUTILUS, with it's luxurious Victorian interiors as

described in the Jules Verne novel.


Additional assignments included conceptual ideas for Main Street USA and Jungle River Cruise for

Disneyland, where he worked closely with Walt throughout the construction phases.


Harper later moved over to work with Jack Webb (a fellow Dixieland Jazz enthusiast), art directing and

sometimes acting in bit parts for Dragnet and Pete Kelly's Blues.


Kirk Douglas brought Harper to Norway as art director and associate producer for The Vikings in 1957.

Following semi-retirement from motion pictures, he designed the structural globe fountain centerpiece for

the 1964-65 New York World's fair, as well as a series of VIP hotel suites for the Houston Astrodome.


Harper's final film credits were Fantastic Voyage and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After a

short while, he moved back to WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering), designing

several world showcase pavilions for EPCOT in Florida.


He is survived by his wife Flossie of more than sixty years of marriage.


                                                                                                                        by Tom Scherman

[Editor: Our tribe has lost another of the pathfinders. Harper Goff was a man who not only set a style of submarine modeling,

but even more fundamentally, inspired a whole generation with an image of the NAUTILUS, gliding through the seas of the

world. I suspect that many of the members of the SubCommittee (and no small number of those who joined the Submarine

Forces) found their first impression of submarining in the work of Harper Goff. In return, while Harper never joined the

SubCommittee, Tom Scherman tells me that Harper had seen several of the Reports and found them interesting. As with so

many of the ones of talent and vision, I only wish we had had more of an opportunity to have gotten to know him better.]




This is an unusual format for a

SubCommittee article -- but it's an

unusual article. Tom Scherman sent

this copy of a handwritten letter from

Harper Goff to Frank Johnson of Scale

Modeler, back in 1974. I'm re-printing

the letter here, full-length, as part of our

remembrance of Harper. But I suspect

that you will find this letter as

fascinating as I did. It's a rare glimpse

into the process of creation -- and will

certainly give you a better appreciation

of the artistry of the design of the

























In Good Hands: Nautilus expert Tom Scherman checks a model of the

submarine walk-through attraction planned for debut in mid-1994.


Harper's wife, Flossie, has requested

that anyone interested in making a

contribution in the memory of Harper

Goff donate to the Herbert Ryman

Living Masters Program (c/o Ryman-

Carroll Foundation,13551 Chandler

Blvd; Van Nuys CA 91401) or the

Braille Institute (741 N. Vermont, Los

Angeles CA 90029). Please mention

Harper Goff's name so that the contri-

bution may be acknowledged.