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Novelty toy inventor, entertainer Don Poynter never lacked for ideas

Donald B. Poynter was a difficult man to sum up. He was an entertainer, an inventor, an entrepreneur. Creative and bold with an endless stream of ideas.

Local folks long remembered his days as a theatrical drum major at the University of Cincinnati, where he twirled multiple batons while on stilts, a tightwire or a unicycle.

Then he built a career inventing novelty toys and gadgets – some of them rather risqué, like the Go Go Girl Drink Mixer – that were featured on Johnny Carson and David Letterman.

That made it difficult for his daughter to tell the nuns at school what her father did for a living. “I went home and asked my mom,” Molly Poynter Maundrell recalled. “She said, ‘Just say he’s self-employed.’”

Poynter continued to come up with wacky new products into his 90s. He died Aug. 13 at age 96.

NOVEMBER 1959: Novelty toy inventor Don Poynter.

“I’ve had a fascinating life,” Poynter said in a 2019 Cincinnati Magazine article. One filled with accomplishments in a wide range of areas, from business to show business, and a number of celebrity encounters along the way.

Near the end, a social worker called his daughter, concerned that the tales he told were hallucinations. “No,” Molly assured her, “they’re all true.”


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