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Warner Bros. planned to make a Lou Edelman-produced musical version of the studio's 1938 production, Four Daughters (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40) as early as 1952, according to a January 1952 Daily Variety news item. The 1938 film, like Young at Heart, was based on the Fannie Hurst short story, "Sister Act." Frank Davis was assigned to write the screenplay, according to a May 1954 Los Angeles Examiner article, but his contribution to the final film has not been determined; only Julius J. Epstein and Lenore Coffee, who wrote the screenplay for Four Daughters, are credited with the screenplay for Young at Heart. Henry Blanke, who produced Four Daughters, also produced Young at Heart. Another veteran of the 1938 film was Al Alleborn, who served as unit manager on Four Daughters but acted as the assistant director on Young at Heart. An October 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item added Billy Mauch to the cast, but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. The above sources also reported that the film's title was taken from Frank Sinatra's then popular song, "Young at Heart." As the Motion Picture Herald review states, the title is a misnomer, "because the accent is on the trials of youth and not on those of the young at heart."
A September 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that actress Doris Day recorded four numbers from the film for the Columbia Records label. According to an undated Daily Variety news item from the 1980s found in the AMPAS Library file for the film, Martin Melcher, who was the husband of Day and president of Arwin Productions, wanted to shoot a new ending for the film and re-release it under a new title, but the venture never came to fruition. Warner Bros.' 1938 film, Four Daughters was directed by Michael Curtiz and starred Claude Rains, John Garfield and Priscilla Lane. In the earlier version, the piano player did not survive the auto accident.