The man behind the magic

Douglas Enderle (M.F.A. '81) is the 2010 UMKC Alumnus of the Year. Enderle is being honored for his accomplishment as a senior costume designer at Walt Disney Entertainment.
Douglas Enderle (M.F.A. '81) is the 2010 UMKC Alumnus of the Year. Enderle is being honored for his accomplishment as a senior costume designer at Walt Disney Entertainment.

Disney’s Douglas Enderle named UMKC’s 2010 Alumnus of the Year

People may see the character costumes created by Douglas Enderle any time they watch a Disney special, visit a Disney theme park or travel on a Disney cruise. Enderle – the man behind the magic – is a UMKC Theatre alumnus and UMKC’s 2010 Alumnus of the Year.

Douglas Enderle and his Emmy.

Douglas Enderle and his Emmy.

As a senior costume designer for Walt Disney Entertainment, Enderle (Master of Fine Arts in Design and Technology, 1981) designs and creates costumes for a variety of performers and characters. He received two Emmy awards nominations, and he won an Emmy for Innovative Costume Design for the 1993 ABC telecast of the “Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade.”

“(Receiving an Emmy was) humbling, because I didn’t win one,” Enderle said. “It may have my name on it, but I am only as good as the people who assist me in what I do. The high standards in my life were set early on with the help of my family, friends and teachers. I was just lucky enough to become associated with a company (Disney) that has a global vision based on solid Midwestern values.”

Meant to be

Douglas Enderle at work in his studio.

Douglas Enderle at work in his studio.

Enderle first learned about UMKC Theatre when he was completing his undergraduate theatre degree at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. One of his professors told him that Vincent Scassellati – costume designer and associate professor emeritus of theatre at UMKC – was searching for a graduate teaching assistant, and that Enderle would be a good candidate.

He was – UMKC Theatre accepted Enderle into the Master of Fine Arts in Design and Technology graduate program, where he perfected his design skills. One of his most valuable UMKC experiences, Enderle said, was working with Professor Scassellati.

“He somehow knew when and what to say to help me find my way,” Enderle said. “UMKC allowed me the opportunity to continue to learn who I am.”

After graduating, Enderle continued working with Scassellati by co-designing a production for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre‘s winter season. Enderle later accepted a temporary teaching assignment with the University of Michigan, where he founded a new costume shop.

Reach for the sky

In 1982, a friend of Enderle’s was searching for someone to work on the opening of Disney’s Epcot theme park, and Enderle fit the bill. Today – 28 years later – Enderle’s designs appear on television, on the Disney Cruise Line and at Disney theme parks in, Orlando, Fla.; Anaheim, Calif.; Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Enderle designs costumes for everything from a pianist on Magic Kingdom’s Coke Corner to more than 20,000 individuals appearing in the opening ceremonies of the Pan American Games. In addition, he works with technology firms to develop costumes that incorporate deep water life preservation capabilities and those that allow characters to pilot ultra light aircraft.

When he’s not designing, Enderle said he enjoys teaching and mentoring aspiring designers. “The world can be a tough place,” Enderle said. “Any help I can give to those looking to find their place in each day costs me nothing and can only bring them riches.”

At UMKC Theatre’s 54th anniversary celebration in 2009, Enderle returned to host the event. In 2008, he led an intensive design workshop at UMKC. During the workshop, Enderle repeatedly emphasized that students’ designs were as good or better than the work he completed at UMKC.

“This incredible exposure to one of our most successful design graduates made the students understand that all things are possible, and that creative genius – when combined with perseverance and joy – can actually manifest into the perfect life-long careers students imagine,” said Lindsay Davis, associate professor of costume design and UMKC Theatre design/technology chair.

Enderle’s most important piece of advice?

Take time to find oneself and remember the importance of staying down-to-earth.

Judging by Enderle’s track record, that advice has certainly served him – and others – well.

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