Arguably the top screen comedian of the 1990s, Canadian-born entertainer Jim Carrey has combined equal parts of his idol Jerry Lewis, his spiritual ancestor Harry Ritz, and the loose-limbed Ray Bolger into a gleefully uninhibited screen image that is uniquely his own.
Carrey's life wasn't always a barrel of laughs; he was born on January 17, 1962, into a peripatetic household that regularly ran the gamut from middle-class comfort to abject poverty. Not surprisingly, Carrey became a classic overachiever, excelling in academics while keeping his classmates in stitches with his wild improvisations and elastic facial expressions. His comedy club debut at age 16 was a dismal failure, but Carrey had already resolved not to be beaten down by life's disappointments (as his father, a frustrated musician, had been). By age 22, he was making a good living as a standup comic, and was starring on the short-lived sitcom The Duck Factory -- a series which curiously did little to take advantage of its star's uncanny physical dexterity.