02/06/1984 at 01:00 AM EST
Appearances notwithstanding, Jim Carrey is not Fonda retirement—to Golden Pond or anywhere else. Indeed, at 22, the master mimic is poised on the brink of a comic breakthrough. Carrey is already being touted as the hottest talent to come out of L.A.'s Comedy Store since Robin Williams nanooed his way onto Mork & Mindy. Last fall producer Allan (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) Burns caught Carrey's act and signed him to star in The Duck Factory, a half-hour comedy series scheduled as a midseason replacement on NBC this spring. The rubber-faced comic plays an animator named Skip Tarkenton. Carrey expects some of his impersonations to turn up on the show (13 episodes are already in the can) but, he maintains, "it's mainly an acting job."
Soon after his debut at the Comedy Store, Carrey was "discovered" again—this time by singer Linda Ronstadt, 37, with whom he lived for several months last year. Rumor has it the romance is on the rocks, but Carrey refuses to talk.
Born in the Toronto suburb of New-market, the son of a musician, Carrey has wanted to be a comedian since he was 8. "I would stare into the mirror for hours pulling faces," he recalls. "It was my way of making friends and getting a laugh." At 16, he dropped out of school to help his financially strapped family. He would put in eight hours a day at a picture-frame factory or on a construction site and at night drive 100 miles round-trip to appear at a club for free, at least until a reporter from a local paper took note. "I guess it was lucky my career took off," he says, "because I was lousy at the other jobs." It was more than luck. Before leaving Canada Carrey had established himself as a major star, commanding up to $40,000 for three nights' work. Since moving south of the border, he has been the opening act for stars such as Sheena Easton and Rodney Dangerfield and has also turned up on The Tonight Show.
Only time will tell if The Duck Factory will be a TV hit, but Carrey is a sure bet to make a good impression.