Gary Hunter

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Life at Sea
My first ship was the Mardi Gras with Carnival Cruise Lines.  It was also Carnival's first ship.  It all started when a retired song and dance vaudeville performer name Charlie Aaron told me about the cruise ships sailing out of Miami.  I was performing in his weekend variety show at Sun City Retirement Center in Central Florida.  He told me that the cruise ships were looking for novelty acts and I'd be perfect.  I drove to Miami and went to all the cruise lines.  No one would see me!  I left my photo and resume in hopes that someone needed a ventriloquist.  I finally got a call from Mike Zonis, who was V.P. of Operations at Carnival Cruise Lines.  I auditioned in his office in front of two secretaries and his assistant.  It was a cold audition with me standing in a corner with my little "Rusty" on the knee performing my act.  Two secretaries and his assistant were laughing and having a good time.  Mr. Zonis sat behind his big desk, didn't laugh, smile or in anyway indicate that he was enjoying the show.  For some reason, that to this day I can not explain, "Rusty" said... 'Why isn't the fat guy behind the desk laughing?'  Mr. Zonis smiled, then laughed and he hired me ... and "Rusty"!  It was a two week audition cruise that was very successful.  Mr. Zonis offered me a contract and I performed on Carnival ships the next for 15 years!  That was the beginning of my life at sea.  

Mr. Mike ZonisĀ & Gary Hunter
Carnival Reunion, December 2008

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