The song was written and published in 1953, with Leigh contributing the lyrics to what was originally a Richards instrumental called "Moonbeam". Frank Sinatra was the first performer to record the song, which became a million-selling hit in 1953 (and spilling over with popularity into 1954). The song was such a hit that a movie that Sinatra was filming at the same time with Doris Day was renamed to the song title, and the song was included in the opening and closing credits of the movie, which was released as Young at Heart. The song has also been used on the soundtracks of other films, including It Could Happen to You, The Front, Sweet Dreams, and Space Cowboys (in a rendition by Willie Nelson).
Other performers who have recorded versions of "Young at Heart" include Jimmy Durante, Connie Francis, Perry Como, Gloria Estefan, Tony Bennett, Shawn Colvin, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Vinton, Tom Waits, Bing Crosby, Barry Manilow, Bob Dylan, Landon Pigg and Vonda Shepard, James Darren, Monty Alexander, and Michael Bublé. The Cure incorporated verses from "Young At Heart" during concert performances of "Why Can't I Be You?" (widely available on bootlegs). Wild Man Fischer recorded an eccentric version that was included on The Rhino Brothers Present the World's Worst Records.
Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you If you're young at heart. For it's hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind If you're young at heart.
You can go to extremes with impossible schemes. You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams. And life gets more exciting with each passing day. And love is either in your heart, or on it's way.
Don't you know that it's worth every treasure on earth To be young at heart. For as rich as you are, it's much better by far To be young at heart.
And if you should survive to a hundred and five, Look at all you'll derive out of being alive! And here is the best part, you have a head start If you are among the very young at heart.