The PONI-TAILS, (1956 - 1960) were an all-female American pop band that was active from 1956 until 1960. Its members included Toni Cistone, Patti McCabe, Karen Topinka and LaVerne Novak. The Poni-Tails are best known for their top 10 hit song “Born Too Late” released in 1958. 

The Poni-Tails were formed in LYNDHURST, Ohio, at Brush High School where Cistone, McCabe, and Topinka were enrolled. Cristone, McCabe, and Topinka were discovered and promoted by attorney John Jewitt, who then introduced the girls to actor and music publisher Tom Illius. Eventually, Illius secured them a record deal with Point Records. The Poni-Tails then began to sing on the radio. Point Records released the The Poni-Tails song “Your Wild Heart.” 

Soon after, Illius secured a deal for The Poni-Tails with Marc Records. With Marc they released  “Can I Be Sure” which was a radio flop. Feeling disillusioned with the music industry, Topinka decided to quit The Poni-Tails. The remaining members held an audition to replace Topinka, and selected Laverne Novak from their high school as her replacement. 

In 1958, Illius secured a record label with ABC Paramount. Under ABC Paramount, they released “Just My Luck to Be Fifteen” and their biggest hit song, “Born Too Late”. 

“Born Too Late” was produced by Don Costa, written by Fred Tobias and Charles Strouse. In addition to becoming a top 10 hit song in the United States, “Born Too Late” also made the top 5 in the United Kingdom. 

The Poni-Tails subsequent songs included “Seven Minutes to Heaven”, “I’ll Be Seeing You”, and “Who, When, and Why” among others. All songs released after “Born Too Late” failed to chart as high. 

Therese Ruane

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