While he was still in high school, he was the lead actor on a radio show that aired in Cincinnati and later nationally on NBC. One of his high school friends was crooner Andy Williams.
In college, he was a drum major who gained renown for twirling lighted torches.
He toured the world with the Harlem Globetrotters, and was roommates with Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens for a few days.
He made and operated puppets on a kids TV show.
He worked in advertising and directed the first TV commercial for the Easy-Bake Oven… and cast his daughter Molly in it.
He borrowed $10,000 from a college fraternity brother to make whiskey-flavored toothpaste, and wound up on “What’s My Line?”
Life magazine sent a photographer to his assembly line, but Poynter didn’t have one. He was mostly a one-man operation. So, he enlisted some friends to play-act in a warehouse with empty boxes in the background because he had nearly sold out of the toothpaste.Source: this Cincinnati.com article
He invented dozens of novelty toys, including a Little Black Box – when you turned it on, gears would move inside the box and a hand would emerge to turn it off… this same mechanism was later used to make a hand that grabbed coins, marketed as “Thing” from “The Addams Family” TV show.
He dreamt up dry cleaning bags printed with dresses from Disney Characters so kids could use them as costumes. Walt Disney called it “the best promotion I have ever seen.”
He invented this:
His toys were featured on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman.
“Almost everything I’ve ever done is either making someone laugh or giving them pleasure, and if I didn’t, I’d be out of business.”Don Poynter, in a 2015 interview.
Don Poynter passed away in August of this year, at the age of 96. He said “I’ve had a fascinating life” and he wasn’t kidding.