It may be popular to quote Alfred, Lord Tennyson's sentiment "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," but this ballad from Victor Young and Edward Heyman is having none of that:
When I fall in love it will be forever Or I'll never fall in love
Young, a film composer, and Heyman, "Body and Soul" lyricist, wrote the song for the 1952 war film One Minute To Zero, starring Robert Mitchum and Ann Blyth. While Jeri Southern was the first to record the song, it was Doris Day who scored the first hit that same year.
Nat King Cole recorded this for his 1956 album Love Is the Thing and performed it in the movie Istanbul the following year. It didn't chart in the US, but was a hit in the UK, where it peaked at #2. Daughter Natalie Cole used her late father's vocals to create a virtual duet featured on her 1996 Stardust album. The cover won Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and Best Instrumental Arrangement with Accompanying Vocal(s) that year. She also recorded a contemporary R&B version for an earlier album, Everlasting (1987).
Celine Dion and Clive Griffin recorded a duet in 1993 for the hit soundtrack to Sleepless in Seattle, a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Their version, arranged by David Foster and Jeremy Lubbock, won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 1994. It was also nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, but lost to "A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)" by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle.
Riding high on the success of his career-making single, "Never Gonna Give You Up," Rick Astley was angling for another chart-topper in his native UK with a 1987 cover of Nat King Cole's version, which was approaching its 30th anniversary. But EMI was anxious for their act, Pet Shop Boys, to land a Christmas #1 (a prestigious feat in the UK) for "Always On My Mind," so the label re-released Cole's single to undermine Astley's. It worked, and Astley's version peaked at #2, while Cole's re-issue landed at #4.
Over 100 artists have recorded this, including Tony Bennett, Karen Carpenter, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, and Boyz II Men. The Lettermen hit #7 on the pop chart with their version in 1962.
Nat King Cole's version was used in Wrongfully Accused, a 1998 spoof of The Fugitive, starring Leslie Nielsen.