Boca Raton, Fla. (Wall Street Journal) Malcombe (Mel) Rebbit, inventor and founder of “This Page Intentionally Left Blank,” was found deceased in his car in the Harris Teeter parking lot last Tuesday. Boca Raton police issued a statement that his death appeared to be a suicide.
Rebbit invented and patented “This Page Intentionally Left Blank” in 1976 while working for a vanity press publishing company. Rebbit noticed the confusion and anxiety caused by blank pages appearing in books and pamphlets without explanation.
Some wondered, Rebbit thought, was this blank page a mistake, a printing error, or am I going blind and just can’t see what is written there? Could this missing content have serious consequences for me? Or is this just part of the story, an expression of the author’s nihilistic viewpoint, a statement on the emptiness, the lack of content of existence.
One night, during a particularly disturbing dream involving Buffalo Chicken Wings, chipotle sauce and Barbara Walters, Rebbit had a vision: why not just tell folks outright that we meant to leave the page blank? Just tell them so there will be no question about printing errors, eyesight or existence.
Just Write it right across the blank page: “This Page Intentionally Left Blank.” Rebbit’s invention soon revolutionized blank pages; no more wondering, no more guessing, damn it, we meant to leave it blank.
With the profits from his invention, Rebbit was able to retire and move to Florida and, by all accounts, led a comfortable but quiet life. At least until his body was found in the Harris Teeter parking lot last Tuesday afternoon. Police said that although they found no suicide note, they did find a blank sheet of paper with “This Page Intentionally Left Blank” hand printed across the top.