"He sat and read the bible all day long, and he chanted. His eyes were glazed, and I was saying, 'Michael, what is it you are on?' He looked like a zombie." -Lin Arison
In 1979, Micky Arison's father, Ted, named his son, a 30-year-old college dropout, president of Carnival Cruise Lines.
The senior Arison had started Carnival seven years before in 1972, "with one ship that ran aground on its maiden voyage."
In a 2003 interview with Fortune magazine, Micky described the Saturday night parties he threw for Carnival employees in the late 1970s in his 900 square-foot apartment: "We had wild parties, a really good time."
|9th grader Michael Arison, |
Fisher Jr. High
yearbook photo, 1975-76.
Ted Arison adopted Michael at age 7 when he married the boy's mother, Marilyn B. Hersh Lin, in 1968.
The day after Thanksgiving in 1978, Florida newspapers carried an Associated Press story that laid bare, in ghastly detail, the family nightmare that Ted and Lin Arison had been going through for much of the year with Micky's step-brother, Michael.
Youth Cultist Home for Holiday; Family Not Sure How Long
MIAMI BEACH (AP) -- Ted and Lin Arison were thankful to have their son home for the holiday. Now they say they must convince him not to return to the religious cult he's lived with for most of the past seven months.
A haggard looking Michael Arison, 17, returned to his parents penthouse home at 1 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, raided the refrigerator and spent most of the day sleeping, his mother said.
The last several months have been a nightmarish montage of their handsome, athletic son's transformation into a blank staring, disoriented cultist; "deprogramming" attempts, telephone calls from "Brother Louv," and finally, police intervention.
Mrs. Arison, wife of a cruise line owner, recalled that Michael became interested about seven months ago in the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, a group whose members smoke marijuana in rituals.
A research paper for a Miami Beach High School sociology class gave him an excuse for studying the cult.
"He and four very close buddies decided to go down to the (local cult headquarters on Star Island) and take a look," she said.
Mrs. Arison said Michael began spending time at the church, ostensibly to further his research. His parents didn't worry, she said, because the cult believes three hours or less of sleep a day is sufficient. It begins 10 hours of chanting daily at 5 a.m.
But Michael, provided with marijuana at the church, began coming home "smoked out," she said. "The first time he made the five o'clock chant, I knew we were in trouble."
The AP story recounts several ploys the Arisons used to try to get Michael to leave the cult. At one point they hired a nationally-known "deprogrammer."
The AP story ends with Miami Beach police pressuring the cult's leader, Brother Louv, into talking Michael into returning home.
In the 36 years since the AP story's publication, there's been no almost mention of Michael Arsion in news reports.
He was so successful at dropping out of sight, that he was initially omitted from his father's obituary in 1999.
|Associated Press, Nov. 24, 1978. |
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